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THE STORY OF 

GONDWANA 



Printsd by Sir Isaac Pitmam & 
Sons, Ltd., London, Bath, Nbw 
York and Mslbourns 1916 



THE STORY OF 

GONDWANA 



Bt The Riobt Rbvebbmd 

EYRE CHATTERTON, D.D. 

Bishop ov Naopur 



WITH A FOREWORD BY 
THE HON. SIR BENJAMIN ROBERTSON, 

K.O.SJ.. K.C.M.G. 
Chtvf OoiaassioNER of the Central 

PBOVINCE8 



London 
SiK Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd., 1 Amen Corner, E.C. 
And at Bath, New York and Mblbournb 

1916 






CHBST OF THE GOKD KINGS 



V6^t(f^-0-tf*/ 



FOREWORD 

■ ■ 

It gives me much pleasure to write a few intro- 
ductory words to the Story of Gondwana which 
the Bishop of Nagpur has put together from the 
l^ends and history of the past. I can remember 
when a boy — ^long before I had any thought that 
my lot would be cast in India — treading Forsyth's 
Highlands of Central India and being captivated 
by the charm of the country which he described. 
For the greater part of twenty-five years I have 
lived in the Central Provinces, the Gondwana of 
the Bishop's story ; I have wandered over its 
hills and jungles, and have to the full imbibed 
the fascination which it exercises over all who 
know it, be they district officers closely in touch 
with the simple lives of its people, or sportsmen 
in pursuit of the noble game which its wide- 
spreading forests contain. Over none has it 
cast its spell more completely than the luthor of 
this little book. And to him it has, I know, been 
a labour of love to tell in simple language some- 
thing of the old Gond kingdoms which flourished 
on and around the Satpuras, and briefly to trace 



FOREWORD 

the later history of the country which was once 
tinder their sway. May the Story of Gondwana 
help to spread more widely some knowledge of 
these central uplands^ of their ancient past 
and of their manifold attractiveness at the 
present day. 

B. Robertson. 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE 

Tee purpose of this little book is to tell briefly 
the Story of Gondwana^ the modem Central 
Provinces of India. Moving up and down its 
plateaux and plains during the last thirteen 
years, seeing its old fortresses and other monu- 
ments of the past, reading isolated bits of its 
history in Government Gazetteers and else- 
where, I have long felt that it would be well 
if somecme would weave together for us 
these scattered records into something like a 
connected story. 

Not that Gondwana made history in the bril- 
liant &shion which Rajasthan, and many other 
regions of India, did. Its earUer history is more 
that of one of the child races of the world. The 
tact, however, that it has got its own stories of 
romance and pathos, and that for well nigh four 
centuries it had its four kingdoms, ruled over by 
its ovm Gond rulers, makes all that we possess 
of its history worthy of being more widely known 
than it is at present. 

A few words at the conclusion of the story on 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE 

Maratha rule in Gondwana^ followed as it has 
been by our British Administration^ redeem the 
narrative from its otherwise rather antiquarian 
character^ and will it is hoped give our readers 
some idea of what their fellow-countrymen are 
doing in this part of India. 

I have to thank Miss Alice Woodward for 
her diarming illustrations of the Story of Lingo^ 
and also Mr. Hands^ Jubbulpore^ Mr. Shalom^ 
Nagpur^ Messrs. Herzog and Higgins^ Mhow^ 
and Mr. Lawrie^ Jubbulpore^ for some of the 
illustrations in the book^ which were specially 
taken at my request. 

. EYRE NAGPUR. 



V111 



To My Wife 

who has been my constant companion in 

my iourneyings in Gondwana 



CONTENTS 



FOSEWOKD V 

author's preface vii 

L OLD GONDWANA 1 

n. GARHA AND THE NORTHERN GOND KINGDOM 13 

m. CHAURAGARH AND THE NORTHERN GOND KINGDOM 23 

IV. HIRDB SHAH AND THE PEDIGREE OF THE GOND 

KINGS OF GARHA-MANDLA .... 30 

V. DEOGARH AND THE EASTERN MIDDLE GOND 

KINGDOM 41 

VL KHERLA AND THE WESTERN MIDDLB GOND 

KINGDOM 48 

Vn. THE SOUTHERN GOND KINGDOM ... 53 

Tm. CHANDA AND THE SOUTHERN GOND KINGDOM 60 

NAGPUR— THE MARATHA PERIOD (1743-1853) 72 

A PLEA FOR THE OLD JOHN COMPANY. 88 

GONDWANA UNDER BRITISH RULE— EARLY DAYS 100 

Xn. GONDWANA UNDER BRITISH RULE .106 

Zm. SOME STRANGE BELIEFS AND CUSTOMS IN 

GONDWANA 120 

XIV. A FEW WORDS ON MISSION WORK IN GONDWANA . 136 

THE STORY OF UNGO — 151 

PART I. THE CREATION OF THE GOND PEOPLE 

AND THEIR SUBSEQUENT BONDAGE . 154 

„ n. THE BIRTH, LIFE, AND DEATH OF LINGO 161 

„ m. THE REVIVAL OF LINGO, AND HIS 
DELIVERY OF THE GONDS FROM 

BONDAGE Id4 

IV. THE SUB-DIVISION OF THE GONDS INTO 
TRIBES-— THE INSTITUTION OF WORSHIP 

— ^THE PASSING OF UNGO . . 206 

INDEX 225 

xi 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

MADAN'S pleasure palace at GARHA . ffontispUce 



A BIT OF SATFUSA SCENERY 2 

DHUPGARH, PACHXARHI 4 

RAXTEK— THE SUMMIT OF THE HILL . .6 

LAKE AND TEMPLES, RAMTEK 8 

THE OLD GOND PALACE AT GARHA .... 14 

A LAKE AT GARHA 18 

THE TOMB OF QUEEN DURGAVATl .... 22 

CHAURAGARH FORT— A TANK ON SUMMIT 24 

,, „ A WATCH TOWER ... 26 

THE PALACE AT RAMNAGAR, NEAR MANDLA ... 28 

THE TEMPLE OP SIDDHNATH, MANDHATA ... 36 

DEOGARH, FORTRESS 40 

DEOGARH, NAGARKHARA 42 

THE RUINED THRONE . . 44 

DEOGARH, THE TOMB OF THE GOND KINGS . . , 46 

THE FORTRESS OF KHERIA 48 

THE FAMOUS FORTRESS OF ASIRGARH .... 50 

YIEW FROM SUMMIT OF ASIRGARH .... 52 

THE PATHANPURA GATE, CHANDA .... 56 

THE CITY WALLS, CHANDA, WITH ACHALESHWAR TEMPLE 

AND TOMBS OF GOND KINGS 62 

THE MAHA KAU TEMPLE, CHANDA .... 68 

NAGPUR-— THE FORT OF SITABALDI SEEN ACROSS JUMA 

TALAO 76 

THE BATTLE OF SITABALDI — ^THE EXPLOSION OF THE 

TUMBRIL 82 

THE BATTLE OF SITABALDI — ^FITZGERALD'S CHARGE 84 

GATEWAY AT OLD GOND PALACE, NAGPUR . 102 

• • • 

XIU 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



THB MARBLE ROCKS NEAR JUBBULPORE 

THE FALLS OF THE NERBUDDA NEAR JUBBULPORE 

KEATING POINT, PACHMARHI 

WATERS ICEET, PACHMARHI .... 

A PORTION OF THE OLD GOND FORT, NAGPUR 

MANDHATA ISLAND ON THE NERBUDDA 

ENTRANCE TO " CHAMBER OF HORRORS/' DEOGARH 

THE ONKAR TEMPLE AND BIRKHILA CUFF, MANDHATA . 

THE RAJAH OF BASTAR IN HIS TRIUMPHAL CAR AT 
DASEHRA FESTIVAL 

ALL saints' CATHEDRAL, NAGPUR .... 

THE LONELY GRAVE AT KARANJIA .... 

REVERENCE OF A SECT OF SIKHS FOR SIR DONALD MCLEOD 

MARPHA MISSIONARY SETTLEMENT 

PATPARA LEPER SETTLEMENT 

THE INCARCERATION OF THE GONDS— EPIC OF UNGO . 

BIRTH OF UNGO . . . 

THE GIANT AND HIS SPOUSE DANCE, WHILE LINGO PIPES 

KAGESAR SPRINKLES THE BODY OF LINGO . 

lingo's wonderful FUGHT 

LINGO AND THB FOUR GONDS CROSSING THE RIVER 

THE SACRED POOL AT AMARKANTAK WHERE THE HOLY 
NERBUDDA RISES 

MAP 



104 
108 
110 
112 
116 

120 
122 
124 

128 
136 
142 
144 
146 
148 
156 
162 
178 
196 
206 
210 

222 
225 



XXV 



THE 

STORY OF GONDWANA 

CHAPTER I 

OLD GONDWANA 

More than a generation has passed since Captain 
Forsyth^ in his well-known work on the Highlands 
of Central India^ first sounded the praises of Gond- 
wana. How well it deserves those pi'aises can 
only be fully understood by those who, while 
living in the Central Provinces, retain some recol- 
lections of the deserts of Rajputana, the dusty 
plains of the Punjab, or the damp and low-lying 
country of Bengal. 

The name Gondwana seems to have been given 
originally to a tract of country which lies to the 
immediate south of the Satpura Mountains, in the 
northern part of the modem State of Hyderabad, 
a region in which certain tribes of the Gond lace 
then lived. Later on, however, it was extended 
to the whole of the modem Central Provinces of 
India. 

Gondwana of old seems to have stood quite 
apart from the main Ufe and civiUsation of India* 
Its dense forests and hilly country cut it off 
completely from the outer world ; and those who 

1 

I— <355i) 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

moved down from Hindustan into the Deccan, 
whether armies of invasion or peaceful traders^ 
generally passed along its western side by way of 
the fortress of Asirgarh^ and seldom penetrated 
into the heart of its wild jungles: And for this 
reason one may search in vain for anything more 
than a passing reference to it in general Indian 
history. 

Certainly by far the fullest and most interesting 
reference to old Gondwana is to be found in the 
writings of Abu-1-Fazl, the Mosleni chronicler of 
Akbar's days. Although as a highly-cultured 
Moslem he clearly felt contempt for the ignorant 
aborigines of Gondwana^ still his description seems 
to have been fairly accurate and is decidedly 
amusing. It occurs when he is writing of a 
projected invasion of the country by Asaf Khan^ 
the Moslem Viceroy of Manikpur. 

** In the vast territories of Hindustan there is a 
country called Gondwana. It is the land in- 
habited by the tribe of Gonds^ a numerous race 
of people, who dwell in the wilds, spend their 
time in eating and drinking and in the procreation 
of children. Thev are a very low race, and are 
held in contempt by the people of Hindustan, who 
look upon them as outcast from their religion 
and their laws. The length of the district is 
300 miles. On the north Ues Panna. On the 
south the Deccan. On the west it borders on 
Raisin, belonging to Malwa, and on the east 
Ratanpur. The country is called Garha Katanka, 
and contains 70,000 villages. Garha is the name 



OLD GONDWANA 

of its chief eity^ and Katanka is the name of a 
place near it. These two places have given their 
names to the whole country. The seat of govern- 
ment is the fort of Chauragarh. In former times 
there was no one supreme ruler, but the country 
was ruled by several Rajahs and Rais, and at the 
present time, when by the will of fortune it belongs 
to this race, there are several Rajahs such as 
Rajah Garha. The fighting men of this country 
are chiefly infantrjr, horsemen being few. From 
the earUest establishment of the Mohammedan 
power in India no monarch has been able to 
reduce the fortresses of this country, or annex its 
territory." 

Now, were one asked to describe the special 
charm of Gondwana, a charm which distinguishes 
it from so much of the rest of India, one would, I 
think, at once point to the beautiful Satpura 
hills and plateaux, which he at its very heart. 
Strange to say few, save those who live in Gond- 
wana, or enterprising sportsmen in search of its 
big game, know of the real beauty which lies 
hidden away in this still rather inaccessible part 
of India. Even the name Satpura is hardly 
recognised, and the term Vindhyan, which, strictly 
speaking, belongs to the long range of hills and 
moimtains which he to the ncoth of the Nerbudda, 
is still regarded by many as covering these wide- 
spread Satpura uplands which lie to the south 
of that river, and which reach from Khandesh to 
Amarkantak. 

How this range received its name of Satpura is 

3 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

not quite c&tain. Some have suggested that it 
is a coiTuption of the Indian word '' Satputras/' 
which would make it mean ''seven sons/' the 
offspring of the Vindhyans I It seems more 
probable^ however^ that it comes from the word 
"pura/* or valley^ and that it is but a name 
poetically descriptive of the range with its many 
deep valleys cutting across the main mass of 
mountainous coimtry. 

It is^ indeed^ a splendid stretch of broken high- 
land country. Whether one finds oneself in the 
Gawalgarh Range near Chikalda, in the Mahadeo 
Range near Pachmarhi^ or on the Maikal Range 
on the sacred plateau of Amarkantak^ one is all 
the time in jthese beautiful Satpuras^ far from the 
enervating influences of the Indian plains and 
enjoying an almost European climate. 

What the Central Provinces would be without 
the Satpuras one hardly cares to think. A^thin 
its hills rise the sacred Nerbudda^^ the most 
picturesque river in tndia^ with a course of 750 
miles^ the Tapti with its wild and rocky bed, the 
Sone, the Wainganga — ^not to mention numerous 
lesser streams. 

Timber of various kinds, especially teak and 
sal, may be seen On its hill-sides and in its valleys ; 
and this in spite of the wanton destruction of its 
forests, both by axe and fire, in days gone by. 
Over its hills and in its valleys roam tiger, 

^ Written by old writers Narmada, " the river of soft 
water." 



OLD GONDWANA 

panther, bear, bison, buffalo, wild pig, deer, stag, 
and antelope. Nowhere in all India is there a 
r€|;ion more beloved by the sportsman I 

Nor is this region, wild though it be, without 
some of those sacred places of pilgrimage which 
are found dotted about most parts of the Indian 
Peninsula, and which play such a large part in 
the life of millions of the people of the country. 
Few "Tirth Sthans"* can compare in sacred- 
ness, so the Brahmans of the Central Provinces 
say, with Amarkantak, where rises the holy 
Nerbudda, the southern rival of Mother Ganges. 
Every year at certain seasons come flocking to its 
shrines Hindu pilgrims from all parts of India — 
some of whom make their pilgrimage on foot 
from the mouth of the river to its soiuxe, and 
their " darshan '' * obtained, journey homewards 
on the other side of the sacred stream. 

To the mysterious Cave of Mahadeo in the side 
of a mountain hard by Pachmarhi ; to the ancient 
temples of Mandhata on the Nerbudda; to the 
temples of Ramtek, about twenty-five miles north 
of Nagpur ; to the temples of Vishnu and the Ten 
Incarnations on the Wainganga, as well as to 
numerous smaller shrines on hill-top and by river 
side, thousands and thousands of the people of 
India journey every year, seeking "mflkti" or 
salvation. 

Here is the land in which from early days the 
Gonds have Uved. Not that the name Gond is 

^ Places of Pilgrimage. * The vision of the God. 

5 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

the name which they have called themselves by ; 
for to themselves they are, and always have been, 
simply Koitor, or "Men/* Possibly the name 
Gond came to them, because in early days this 
part of India formed the western portion of the 
Old Gaur Kingdom of Bengal, and so the Dravidian 
Koitors, who lived in Gaur land, became known 
as Gonds. 

Those who know Risley's work on The People 
of India will remember that the earliest and most 
numerous of the seven races, to which he would 
ttace all the present people of India, is the Dravi- 
dian race. It is to this race " the ancient Britons 
of India,'' which includes Tamil, Tel^;u, and 
Canarese, and with which nearly all the con- 
quering races of India — ^Aryans, Scythians, and 
Mongols — ^have so largely intermingled, that the 
Gond belongs. 

Where these Dravidian Koitors dwelt, before 
they settled in the plains and uplands of the 
Central Provinces, is a question which cannot now 
be answered. The existence of a small tribe of 
Brahuis in Beluchistan, resembling Gonds in 
language and in some of their customs, have sug- 
gested to some a northern origin. The more 
probable view, however, is that the Gonds were 
an unciviUsed branch of the Dravidians, who in 
early times moved up from the Deccan into 
the Central Provinces, where they made their 
home in company with other aboriginal races, 
Kols, Kurkus, and Bhils. Here they Uved their 

6 



IT'A 



OLD GONDWANA 

primitive life in the ways they loved best, 
hunting always, seldom settling for long in one 
place, and cultivating, frequently in ways most 
destructive to the forests. 

Then with the coming of the Aryan into India, 
the beginnings of a larger and more civiUsed life 
dawned for Gondwana. Hindu sages and ascetics 
began to appear in its wild r^ons, seeking for 
fit places for contemplation and retirement. 

There is an amusing passage in the Epic of the 
Ramayana which shows how the highly civiUsed 
Aryans of those early days r^arded the Gonds, 
at a time when what was known of them was 
principally from the mouths of those '' Sadhus '' 
or holy men. As we read it we can easily picture 
how these Hindu Saints were often disturbed in 
their devotions by the ignorant curiosity, if not 
worse, of the wild Gonds, who but faintly under- 
stood the meaning of the self-inflicted hardships 
and tortures to which these Aryan strangers from 
the north subjected themselves. 

''The shapeless and ill-looking monsters (the 
Gonds) testify their abominable character by 
various cruel and terrific displays. These base- 
bom wretches implicate the hermits in impure 
practices, and perpetrate the greatest outrages. 
Changing their shapes, and hidmg in the thickets 
adjoining the hermitages, these frightful beings 
delight in terrifying the devotees. They cast 
away the sacrificial ladles and vessels, they pollute 
the cooked oblations, and utterly ddUe the offer- 
ings with blood. These faithless creatures inject 

7 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

frightful sounds into the ears of these faithful and 
austere eremites. At the time of sacrifice they 
snatch away the jars, the flowers, the fuel, and 
the sacred grass of these sober-minded men." 

The '* holy men " were soon followed by Rajput 
adventurers, who came partly as knights-errant 
to protect the "Rishis,"* and partly from the 
love of adventure to seek out fortunes in pastures 
new. Some of these Rajput knights, the younger 
sons of princes, married the daughters of Koitor 
chieftains, and quickly established themselves 
as rulers over parts of Gondwana. One such 
kingdom, the Hai^Haiya Bansi, a semi-Rajput 
Dynasty, had its capital at Tripuri or Tewar, 
about six miles from our modem Jubbulpore. 
Another dynasty akin to this Hai-Haiya estab- 
lished itself at Ratanpur, in the Bilaspur district, 
and remained Hindu during the Gond ascendency 
and on into Maratha days. Kingdoms of the 
semi-Rajput order arose near Seoni in the Sat- 
puras, and south of the Satpuras, close to the 
modem City of Chanda. Another kingdom, 
whether semi-Rajput, Gaoli, or aboriginal, had 
its capital near to the modem town of Chhindwara. 

It was these kingdoms which, without doubt, 
laid the beginnings of civilisation among our 
Gond Koitors. 

Then came that strange movement in Gondwana, 
which makes its history almost unique in India, 
when, taught by their Aryan or semi-Aryan 

^ Hindu sages. 

8 



OLD GONDWANA 

conquerors, there arose in various parts of Gond- 
wana rulers of the same race as their Gond subjects, 
who, having deprived the semi-Hindu rulers of 
their power, began a rule which was destined to 
last for nearly four centuries. 

Everything that we know of the rule of these 
Gond Rajahs points to the fact that their subjects 
were happy and content. Life for the most part 
seems to have been fairly secure both within and 
without. Occasional invasions from north or 
east, from Bundelkhand, Manikpur, or Malwa, 
were either repelled, or did not lead to a long 
occupation of Gondwana. A simple system of 
land settlement and land revenue was introduced 
in many parts, traces of which still survive in 
some districts pf the Central Provinces. 

The value of water storage was fully reaUsed 
by these old Gond rulers. In 1865, after visiting 
the northern part of the Chanda district through 
which the Wainganga flows^ and referring to a 
nimiber of tanks which had been made by the old 
Gond Rajahs of Chanda in that district, Sir R. 
Temple says 

" The number and size of these tanks is certainly 
remarkable. In some parts they cluster thick 
round the feet of the hills. From the summit of 
one hill, no less than thirty-seven tanks were 
visible. They are, as the people themselves told 
me, the very life of the place, and the object to 
which much of the industry and capital of the 
people are devoted. The two staple foods of the 
district, rice and sugar-cane, are entirely dependent 

9 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

on the water-supply from these tanks. Not only 
have these large sheets of water been formed by 
damming up streams with heavy earthwork dykes, 
but masonry escapes and sluices, and channels, 
have also been constructed. Some of the sluices, 
as headworks for irrigation channels, present an 
elaborate apparatus, creditable to the skill and 
ingenuity of the people." 

Well-built fortresses like Deogarh, Chauragarh, 
and Kherla, splendidly situated on hiU-tops, as 
well as other buildings all more or less of a modi- 
fied Saracenic or Islamic pattern, arose in various 
parts of the country. In fact so much of civilisa- 
tion was introduced into Gondwana by these 
Gond rulers, that some have thought, and still 
think, that we are mistaken in regarding them as 
Gonds pure and simple. Undoubtedly there were 
cases when Gond princes married Rajput wives 
(as was the case with the famous queen Durgavati), 
but it does not seem that we have solid ground for 
believing that this was other than exceptional. 
For the most part we may think of the Rajahs of 
these four dynasties as Gonds pure and simple, 
who had raised themselves by superior ability 
and force of character to the position of rulers 
over their people. Nor need we r^ard this as 
making too great a claim for the capacity of an 
aboriginal race, when we see what education has 
done, and is doing, for a kindred race, the abori- 
gines of Chhota Nagpur, and when we meet some 
of the present Gond rulers of our Feudatory 
States in the Central Provinces. 

10 



OLD GONDWANA 

And so it came abcmt that nearly 600 years 
ago^ four independent Gond kingdoms arose, more 
or less simultaneously, in Gondwana; the 
northern Mdth its chief city at Garha, only three 
miles from Jubbulpore ; the two central with 
their capitah at Deogarh, in the Chhindwara 
district, and at Kherla in the Betul district ; and 
the southern with its capital, first at Sirpiu*, and 
then at Chanda. And these kingdoms lasted on 
for nearly four centuries until the Maratha for 
a time introduced chaos into this primitive cosmos. 
Then for nearly 100 years the Maratha held a by 
no means beneficial sway over this fair land, until 
a brighter day dawned for Gondwana, when law 
and order of a type far higher than had been seen 
before was introduced by the coming of British rule. 

The story of these four Gond kingdoms is the 
theme of the early portion of our narrative. That 
a full history of the Gond Dynasties can ever be 
written is vain to expect, as the materials for 
such a history simply do not exist. We must 
remember that reading and writing were unknown 
to the Gonds, save what was introduced amongst 
them by the Hindus. No Gond literature was 
ever produced. That some sort of culture, how- 
ever, existed in and around the Gond courts of 
Mandla, Garha, Kherla, Deogarh, and Chanda, is 
fairly certain. Brahmans were generally to be 
found in attendance on the old Gond Rajahs 
whose services were used for the casting of horo- 
scopes, for purposes of worship and sacrifice, and 

11 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

for many domestic^ social^ and ceremonial func- 
tions. Moslem influence^ too, came into the 
courts of these Rajahs as history records, and as 
the ruined buildings at Chauragarh, Deogarh, 
Chanda and elsewhere clearly indicate. 

And though the Gondwana of the days of the 
Four Kingdoms has passed away, and wild 
regions, in which formerly the roar of the tiger, the 
chatter of the monkey, and other such denizens 
of the jungle, alone disturbed its deep and long 
silences, resound to-day with the shrill shriek of 
the locomotive and the horn of the motor, still the 
broad-faced Gond hves on in his old surroundings 
in number about 2,000,000. Nor, too, amidst all 
the highly organised machinery of British rule, or 
the growing evidences of our western civilisation, 
in coal and manganese mining, as well as in other 
forms of industrial life, have all traces of Gond 
rule quite faded away. For Gond Rajahs may 
still be seen who rule their small Feudatory States 
on the borders of British administered districts ; 
and petty Gond chieftains still live on in their 
villages and " Jagirs " as did their ancestors, 
riding on their elephants, and accompanied by 
their miniature escorts. 



12 



CHAPTER II 

GARHA AND THE NORTHERN GOND KINGDOM 

The Kingdom of the Gonds is gone, 
But noble memories remain. 
And with a loving awe we scan 
The battle page, which ends thy reign. 

— ^DuRGAVATl, Pekin. 

Few stations in the plains of India can compare 
with Jubbulpore for the charm of its surroundings. 
L3ang close to the northern edge of the Satpuras^ 
and in the valley of the Nerbudda^ not far from 
where that picturesque river leaves the wilder 
regions of Mandla^ and enters a broad stretch of 
fertile country which Ues between the Vindhyan 
and Satpura ranges, it is certainly set in a most 
attractive stretch of country. 

What however most impresses one, at first sight, 
in its immediate neighbourhood, are certain of its 
hills covered as they are by huge fantastically- 
shaped boulders. There they lie like the moraine 
of a great glacier, which may have covered this 
valley in bygone ages, when this part of India was 
held fast in the grip of the ice age. Nowhere are 
these great boulders scattered more widely, and 
in greater disorder, than in one long low range of 
hills lying to the west of Jubbulpore, J>eneath 
which at one time lay the capital of Northern 
Gondwana. 

13 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Few of those who, on their way to the famous 
Marble Rocks, pass through the long straggling 
village of Garha, realise that this was a royal 
city for nearly 500 years, and that the quaint 
building, the Madan Mahal, which stands out like 
a watch-tower on the summit of the hill, poised 
on two gigantic rocks, was part of the pleasure 
palace which the Gond Rajah Madan Singh reared 
for himself, and from which he used, doubtless, to 
gaze down complacently on his pretty capital 
and the rich valley whidi lay beyond it. 

Yet there are not wanting even to-day silent 
witnesses to the times when kings lived and ruled 
in Garha. Tanks built by many a Rajah, and 
especially by the famous Gond Queen Durgavati ; 
temples, now fast decaying, built to commemorate 
victories, or to propitiate gods and goddesses; 
vast plantations of mango trees planted by one 
famous Gond Rajah, all recall the bygone days of 
the greatness of Garha. 

With the Buddhist, or Hindu dynasties, which 
ruled in this part of India, centuries before the 
Gonds rose to power, we are not here concerned. 
Doubtless it was by them that the first elements 
of Aryan civiUsation were introduced amongst 
the aboriginal Gonds. One semi-Rajput dynasty, 
the Kalachiui kings of the Hai-Hai Bansi Une, 
certainly reigned in these regions for more than 
two centuries, before the Gonds came into power. 
Their capital, however, was not at Garha but at 
Tewar or Tripuri, three or four miles beyond it 

14 



GARHA 

on the road to the Marble Rocks. Then at lengthy 
after centuries of foreign rule^ probably about the 
thirteenth century of our era, the subject race 
produced a man of its own fit to rule over it, and 
the Hindu ruler had to give place to the Gond. 

Jadurai was the Gond hero who first came to 
the front. Coming as a young man from his 
home in the r^ion of the river Godaveri, he 
entered the service of the Kalachuri Rajah. 
There he learnt his first lessons in state-craft, and 
there also he learnt the weak points in his master's 
characttf and rule* Having learnt these lessons 
he departed, but only for a season. A successful 
marriage with the daughter of the Gond Chieftain 
Nagdeo, of the fortress town of Mandla, sixty 
miles further up the Nerbudda river, was the next 
step in his career, which gave him the status 
which his lowly birth as the son of a village patel 
had hitherto denied him. His position was now 
assured amongst the Gonds. Associating with 
himself a clever adventurer, one Surbhi Pathak, 
who had once, like himself, been in the service of 
the Kalachuri Rajah, he carefully laid his plans, 
and eventually succeeded in overturning the rule 
of the Kalachuris and usurping their power. 
From this time the Gond rule b^an in northern 
Gondwana, a rule which was destined to last for 
fully four centuries. 

There is, however, another version of the story, 
as told in Sir W. Sleeman's history of Garha 
Mandla, which differs considerably from the above. 

15 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

According to it Jadurai was a Hindu who took 
service with a certain Hindu Rajah, and accom- 
panied his master on pilgrimage to Amarkantak, 
the source of the Nerbudda. One night while 
guarding the Royal Tent he chanced to see two 
Gond men and a woman followed by a large 
monkey. As they passed him, the monkey gazed 
into his face, and dropped some peacock's fea- 
thers, and at the conclusion of his watch retired 
to rest. In his sleep the goddess Nerbudda 
appeared to him in a dream, and told him that the 
people he had seen were not mortals, but were 
no less than Rama, Sita, and Laxman, the monkey 
being the God Hanuman. The feathers were a 
sign that he would one day attain to sovereign 
power. He was, however, to visit as soon as 
possible a Brahman recluse at Ranmagar, named 
Surbhi Pathak, who would be his " Guru." * 
Jadurai immediately gave up his post with the 
Rajah and proceeded to Ranmagar. There he 
found Surbhi Pathak, who to his amazement in- 
formed him that the goddess Nerbudda had also 
appeared to him, and told him of Jadurai's great 
destiny. He then led Jadurai into the midstream 
of the Nerbudda, and made him take a solemn 
oath, that if ever he should become king he would 
appoint him as his first minister. The oath taken, 
he advised Jadurai to proceed to Garha and offer 
his services to the Gond Rajah. At this time, the 
Rajah had an only child, a daughter named 

^ Rdigbus teacher. 

16 



GARHA 

Ratana Vali^ and finding himself in declining 
health, and without hope of a son, he took counsel 
of his leading advisers as to the choice of a son-in- 
law. They bade him leave the choice to God, and 
as a means of ascertaining the Divine vdll, advised 
him to assemble a great multitude of his subjects 
on the river bank, and then let loose a blue jay 
amongst them. If the bird alighted on the head 
of any one, he was clearly marked out to be the 
one chosen of God to succeed him. The Prince 
was delighted with this simple solution of his 
difficulties, and on the day appointed released a 
jay in the midst of an inun^ise concourse of his 
people. It flew straight to Jadurai, and alighted 
upon his head. At first, Jadurai, being a Hindu, 
felt some scruples about allying himself with a 
Gond maiden, but the difficulty was soon got over 
by his astute spiritual guide, who stipulated that 
Jadurai should never eat from the hand of his 
bride, though their issue, if any, should be heirs 
to the throne. 

Of Jadurai's immediate successors we know 
nothing save their names, which are duly recorded 
in a genealogy prepared by order of the Gond king 
Hirde Shah, and now foimd on a Sanskrit tablet 
on the walls of the Gond palace at Ranmagar, 
near Mandla. 

It is to Sangram Shah that northern Gondwana 
owes its real greatness and fame. Until he came 
to the " Gadi,'* * about a.d. 1480, the sway of the 

^ Throne. 

17 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Gond kings was confined entirdy to the country 
around Jubbulpore and Mandla. A mian of large 
ambitions and high courage, he was not content 
with his small kingdom, and during his reign 
annexed large portions of the Nerbudda Valley 
and the districts now called Saugor and Damoh^ 
as well as much of the modem state of Bhopal. 
At his death the original four districts which 
formed this kingdom had become no less than 
fifty-four. Desiring to defend his new possessions 
in the Nerbudda Valley, he built the stronghold 
of Chauragarh about ninety miles west of Jubbul- 
pore, from which he could keep guard over a large 
part of the valley, and to which he and his descend- 
ants could always retreat when their country was 
invaded. Later on we shall have occasion to 
speak more fully of this splendid fortress. 

Nor did he forget to add to the beauties of his 
capital at Garha, for to the present day one of its 
most picturesque little lakes bears his name, and 
one of its finest temples, dedicated to the fierce 
god Bhairava, was built by him. 

Sangram Shah was tmdoubtedly the most dis- 
tinguished prince of the northern kingdom. 
Thoughtful for the future of his kingdom, and 
proud of his son Dalpat's daring and splendid 
appearance, Sangram Shah decided that he must 
find for him a worthy partner. His choice fell on 
Durgavati, the daughter of the Chandela Raja of 
Mahoba, a woman of great beauty and, as events 
proved, of even greater character. But for a 

18 



GARHA 

time the fates seemed adverse to the marriage. 
Though it was clear that Durgavati was ready 
and desirous to wed with this splendid Qond youth^ 
another suitor of Rajput blood also sought her 
hand^ and objections to the marriage on the 
ground of caste were raised by the Rajah of 
Mahoba. Only one way was open to Dalpat^ so 
Durgavati privately informed him. He must win 
her by his sword^ or else for ever cease to think of 
her. And Dalpat Shah joyously accepted the 
challenge^ and with his army of Gonds marched 
northwards to do battle with a hostile prospective 
&ther-in-law and a hated rival. Fortune smiled 
on his efforts^ and at the end of the battle victory 
was his. It was a romantic wooing^ but the union 
which followed was destined to last only for four 
short years. Then Dalpat^ still young in years^ 
though great in valour^ was gathered to his 
fathers^ and Durgavati was left with her three- 
year old son, Bir Narayan, to guard the great 
inheritance which Sangram had bequeathed to 
Dalpat. It is to the way in which she fulfilled 
this trust that she owes her unique name, and 
fame, in the annals of Gondwana. 

From time to time in the history of India 
women have appeared, around whose hves a halo 
of romance must for ever linger. Who that has 
read the story of the Ramayan can ever forget 
Sita, the heroine of that great epic, the faithful 
wife, who wore the '* white flower of a blameless 
life " ? And Sita has had many spiritual daught^s 

19 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

in succeeding ages whose faithfulness^ courage^ 
purity^ and devotion^ have added fresh laurels to 
Indian womanhood. No one who has visited the 
famous fortress of Chitor in Rajputana^ and read 
of its prolonged and deadly struggles with Delhi, 
will forget the story of the beautiful Padmani, who 
pref^red death to the harem of Akbar, and led a 
great company of the ladies of her court into the 
flames, while the flower of Rajput chivalry was 
dying under its walls, overpowered by the hosts 
of the MoghuL Nor can anyone who has visited 
Mandu, most fascinating of India's ruined cities, 
on the slopes of the Vindhyans, read the somewhat 
similar story of Queen Rupmati's devotion and 
death without some thrill of S3mipathy. It is in 
this noble company of Indian heroines that Dalpat 
Shah's young widow Durgavati is worthy to be 
placed. 

For fifteen years after Dalpat's death, Durga- 
vati reigned over the widespread territories of 
Sangram wisely and well. Strong fortresses which 
still stand, though in decay, such as Chauragarh 
in the Narsinghpur district, Singorgarh in the 
Damoh district, thirty miles north of Jubbulpore 
(for a time Dalpat's capital), and fortresses in 
Bhopal, such as Chaukigarh and Gunergarh, all 
remind one of the strength and extent of her 
kingdom. 

Her son Bir Narayan was approaching man- 
hood, when a terrible blow fell on the northern 
Gond kingdom, which was to end her happy rule. 

20 



GARHA 

For some time Asaf Khan^ the Moghul Viceroy at 
Manilq)ur^ to the north of Damoh^ had been gazing 
with covetous eyes on the great fertile valley of 
the Nerbudda^ then administered by Durgavati. 
The prize seemed easy to win. The reports of her 
great beauty and wealth had made its acquisition 
doubly desirable. 

Asaf Khan's mind was soon made up. At the 
head of an army he marched southwards on 
Garha. The news of his advance aroused no fear 
in the mind of this Rajput Boadicea. At the 
head of her troops, mounted on her royal elephant, 
she moved forth to meet him from Singorgarh, the 
most northern fortress of her dominions. 

But the Gonds, though brave, were no match 
for Asaf Khan's trained soldiers, and Durgavati 
was compelled to retreat. Hard pressed by the 
army of Asaf Khan, the battle was resumed some* 
where between Garha and Mandla. Again Moghul 
arms proved too strong, and Durgavati, who had 
herself been wounded, was preparing to fly, when 
it was discovered that the river (most probably the 
Hinghan, one of the tributaries of the Nerbudda) 
on the line of her flight, was in flood, and escape 
was impossible. Then true to the traditions of 
her race, she preferred death to dishonour, and 
died by her own hand, rather than fall into the 
hands of Akbar's Viceroy. 

So perished this noble woman, whose name 
should always be cherished as amongst the noblest 
of India's daughters. One fine stretch of water 

21 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA' 

between Jubbulpore and Garha still bears her 
name^ the Rani Tal ; and her simple tomb^ called 
appropriately by the villagers the *'Chabutra/' 
about ten miles from Jubbulpore^ is still held in 
reverence by all who live in its neighbourhood 
and by strangers who pass it by. 



22 



TOMB OF QUEEN DURGAVATl 



CHAPTER III 

CHAURAGARH AND THE NORTHERN GOND 

KINGDOM 

The death of Durgavati was a deep calamity to 
her devoted people. Bit Narayan was still but a 
youth^ who had as yet hardly faced any of the 
responsibihties of life. From the battle-field near 
Jubbulpore he was hurried by his advisers to the 
fortress of Chauragarh^ which his grandfather 
Sangram Shah had built on the northern crest of 
the Satpuras. 

No one who visits Chauragarh to-day can fail 
to be impressed with the enormous natural 
strength of the fortress^ embracing as it does 
within its circle of defences two long and lofty 
hills which approach one another at an angle of 
45^ and which are connected by a slight depres- 
sion. It was clearly a fortress capable of holding 
a large garrison^ and must in olden days have been 
almost impregnable. Thither in hot pursuit of 
the young Gond prince came Asaf Khan and his 
army. Asaf Khan was more than a match for 
his youthful adversary. By treachery or darings 
or by a combination of both^ Chauragarh soon 
passed into his hands. Bir Narayan fell in the 
sack of the fortress^ and the ladies of the court, 
in wild fear lest they should sufEer dishonour, set 
fire to the palace. Only two of them survived — 

23 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Bir Narayan's betrothed wife, and Queen Dur- 
gavati's sister. For them an unkind ifate decreed 
places in Akbar's harem at Delhi. If indeed the 
record of the loot which fell into Asaf Khan's 
hands is to be trusted, the wealth of the northern 
Gond kings must at this time have been con- 
siderable: — " 101 cooking pots full of large and 
valuable gold coins besides jewels, gold and silver 
plate and images of the gods," these were but 
portions of the spoil. Greatest of all were the 
number of elephants which Asaf Khan took, and 
which numbered fully 1,000. 

The story, however, goes on to say that Asaf 
Khan took good care that none of the jewels got 
further than Manikpur, and that his royal master, as 
the result of the conquest of northern Gondwana, 
only received 300 indifier^it elephants I 

For some years after these tragic events Asaf 
Khan appears to have held Garha as an inde* 
pendent principality, probably with the intention 
of remaining there. Warnings, however, from 
Delhi made him realise the wisdom of renouncing 
any idea of breaking away from his allegiance to 
the Emperor, and so in due course he returned to 
Manikpur. Asaf Khan's invasion clearly marks 
an epoch in the history of North Gondwana. 

Writing in 1825, Sir W. Sleeman tells us that 
** from this time onwards local tradition speaks 
of regular intercourse between this Gond kingdom 
and Delhi." For the future the Moghuls exercised 
something like suzerainty over North Gondwana. 

24 



GHAURAGARH 

It is interesting to note that the oldest rupees 
which have been unearthed in this region belong 
to the reign of Akbar. 

On Asaf Khan's withdrawal^ Chandar Shah^ an 
uncle of the ill-fated Bir Narayan and younger 
brother of Dalpat Shah^ was proclaimed Raja of 
Garha-Mandla, and was recognised as such by the 
Emperor Akbar. In view of this recognition, 
Chandar Shah was persuaded by the astute Akbar 
to part with that portion of his territory which 
now forms the kingdom of Bbbpal. Chandar 
Shah's successor, Madhukar Shah, came to the 
throne of his fathers with the fatal stain of his 
ekier brother's blood on his hands. That he felt 
his crime deeply is evidenced by the fact that some 
years later his rehiorse drove him to take his own 
life by voluntarily incarcerating himself in a dry 
hollow pipal tree (one of the sacred trees of India), 
and then being burnt to death. 

Of Madhukar Shah the fact is recorded that he 
was the first of his line to visit the Moghul Court 
for the purpose of doing homage to the Emperor. 
After this it seems to have been customary for the 
eldest son and heir of Northern Gondwana to 
spend some time at Delhi, where doubtless he was 
initiated into the manners and customs of courts 
and the mysteries of diplomacy and state-craft. 

The news of Madhukar Shah's self-inmiolation 
came to the ear of his eldest son Prem Narayan 
while with the Emperor at Delhi. Leaving his 
eldest son Hirde Shah to represent him at the 

25 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

ImperiaT'Court, the Gond Raja hastened back to 
Garha. Little could he have realised that a 
trivial act of discourtesy on his part, in failing to 
return the ceremonial visit of Bir Singh Deo, 
Rajah of Orchha, was to bring on his country the 
horrors of a second invasion. As the story runs, 
this proud prince of Orchha was so angered at this 
discourtesy of the young Gond Rajah, that on his 
death-bed he made his son, Jhujhar Singh, swear 
to avenge this insult by the invasion and conquest 
of Garha. It is possible, however, that an addi- 
tional reason may have made it easier for Jhujhar 
Singh to induce his followers to carry out his 
father's unreasonable behest. The Gonds, as 
aborigines, had no respect for the sacred cow, 
which they used for ploughing, and whose flesh 
was always welcome at their feasts. As such 
treatment of the sacred animal would, to the 
Hindu Rajputs, be " Anathema,'* Jhujhar Singh 
would have experienced no difficulty in persuading 
his subjects that such a war was a " holy " one. 
And so from a failure to observe the etiquette of 
kings, as weU as from an ignorant adherence to 
the customs of their ancestors, the kingdom of 
Garha-Mandla had to endure its second invasion. 
Again, as in the time of Asaf Khan, Chauragarh 
was the chief point of attack. On this occasion, 
however, the Rajput failed where the Moslem had 
succeeded. For several months the army of 
Jhujhar Singh closely invested the fortress, but 
without making any impression upon it. Then^ 

26 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

the aid of its chieftain against a common foe. 
Then when his preparations were complete he 
fearlessly gave battle to his father's and his 
country's foe, and with complete success. 
Jhujhar was killed and his army was routed. 

Only once again did these Bundelas venture on 
an extensive raid into the Nerbudda Valley. As 
they turned their faces northwards and laughed 
at their success in ^' singeing the beard of these 
savage Gonds/' their mirth was suddenly turned 
into blind unreasoning fear. Their wagons, laden 
with loot, had crossed the sacred Nerbudda, and 
were struggling up its northern banks, when an 
invisible and mysterious power drew them all 
back into the river. No effort of theirs could 
stay them as they rolled backward, and as in some 
mysterious way the conviction that the hostile 
spirit of the headless Prem Narayan was present 
came over them, the Bundela warriors terror- 
stricken, fled northwards never to return. 

To Hirde Shah North Gondwana owes much. 
It was his aim to strengthen and consolidate the 
possessions of his ancestors, which had already 
shrunk somewhat by concessions to certain of his 
neighbours. To him is ascribed the planting of 
100,000 mango trees in the neighbourhood of 
Garha, and the construction of the fine reservoir, 
the Ganga Sagar, near Garha. To him also we 
owe the large Gond palace at Ramnagar, twelve 
miles from Mandla. Certainly few buildings in 
India enjoy a more beautiful situation than does 

28 



L 



CHAURAGARH 

this palace, situated as it is high above the banks 
of the Nerbudda, and overlooking a fine stretch 
of river. One can readily understand with what 
feelings of security and peace Hirde Shah must 
have spent his days when residing at Ramnagar 
in the fastnesses of Mandla, and away from the 
open country of Garha. 



CHAPTER IV 

HIRDE SHAH AND THE PEDIGREE OF THE 

GOND KINGS 

The Gond king, Hirde Shah, was clearly a man of 
this world. His days in Delhi, where at the 
Emperor's Court he mixed with many of the 
leading princes of India, had made him fed the 
force of pride of race. Under his orders a pedi- 
gree of the Royal House of Gondwana was pre- 
pared and inscribed in an enduring form on the 
walls of his palace at Ramnagar, near Mandla. 
This truly wonderful work was entrusted to a 
learned Hindu, by name Jaya Govinda. Few of 
those unacquainted with Oriental processes of 
imagination have, I venture to think, ever read 
anything quite like this pedigree. For this reason 
I have thought it well to let my readers see most 
of this family tree. It may be well to point out 
that the earlier portion of this pedigree is pure 
fiction. The clerk, Jaya Govinda, was imder 
orders to produce a good long pedigree. He 
carried out his task most thoroughly. Jadurai, 
called in the pedigree Yadavaraya, who was in 
reaUty quite a modem person, was projected by 
this clever pedigree-maker into the dim past, 
where gods and heroes are indistinguishable. 
Among his descendants celebrated Hindu heroes 
like Ramchandra, Krishna, and Prithwi Raj, are 

30 



HIRDE SHAH 

introduced without any r^ard to history. Only 
when we meet with Madan Singh in this illustrious 
company do we touch on soUd ground at all^ and 
to him^ as we have already seen^ we owe the 
Madan Mahal at Garha. But the full eloquence 
of the pedigree is reserved for Sangram, Dalpat^ 
Durgavati, Madhukar Shah, Prem Narayan, and 
Hirde Shah himself. 

The Pedigree^ 

Glory to the auspicious Ganesa,* The aus- 
picious Trivikrama, ^ the beautiful, bears sway. 

1. Salutation to thee, Vishnu, who, though as 
if in thy entirety, manifoldly manifested, art yet 
assuredly unapprdiended in any of thy real nature 
whatsoever. 

2. In the country of Gadha was a monarch, 
Yadavaraya, a sea of virtuous quaUties. His 
son was Madhavasinha ; from whom sprang 
Jagannatha. 

^13. Then occur the names of no less than 
forty of Hirde Shah's ancestors in succession, 
among whom occur the three well-known incarna- 
tions of the god Vishnu, Narsineh, ^ Ramchandra, 
and Krishna, besides others mmous in Hindu 

1 Translated by Pitz-Edward Hall, D.C.L., presented to 
the American Oriental Society, 17th Oct., 1860, and pablished 
in the Society's JoHtnal, Vol. VII, p. 13 ei seq. (1862). 

* The elqi4iant-headed god» the god of Prosperity. 

* Trivi Krama. An epithet of Vishnu in his Baman 
Incarnation. (The one who took three steps.) 

* Narsingh, the ManrLion Incarnation of ^^shnu* 

31 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Mythology like Rudra ^, Jagannath, • Vasudeva. • 
Madan Singh^ the builder of the Madan Mahal^ is 
also mentioned. Sangram is spoken of as the son 
of Arjun, the famous warrior. 

14. His son was Sangramasahi ; an exter- 
minating fire to his f oes^ as if they had been masses 
of cotton-wool; the radiance of whose grandeur 
being spread abroad^ the midday sun became like 
a mere spark. 

15. By which king, when he had reduced the orb 
of the earth, two and fifty fastnesses were construc- 
ted; indestructible from their excellent fortifica- 
tions, which were like adamant, and possessed the 
firm strength of mountains, because of their water. 

16. Of him gem of princes, King Dalapati was 
the son ; of unsullied glory, to hymn form whose 
fame the Lord of serpents^ hoped that all his 
mouths would enduringly remain. 

17. To the dust of whose feet — since his hand 
was constantly moist with the water of bounty, 
and as he was diligent in the remembrance of 
Hari, * a refuge to those who were brought under 
his authority — ^to him even people infected with 
the quality of passion continually had recourse. 

18. His consort was Durgavati; in sooth the 
increase of fortune to suppliants; accumulated 
hoUness actually personified the very bound of 
earth'sprosperity. 

19. This Purandara* of the circuit of the earth 

^ Rudra, a Vedic god, identified with Agni. 

* Jagaimath, an appearance of Vishnu. 
' Vasudeva, the father of Krishna. 

* Either an epithet of Vishnu with the cobra hood over 
him, or Sesha. 

* A name of the god Vishnu. 

* A name for the beneficent Rain god, 'f Indra." 

32 



HIRDE SHAH 

having demised^ Durgavati consecrated on the seat 
of royalty their son, of three years age, the 
illustrious Viranarayana, so callea. 

20. By whom Durgavati of repute blazoned 
throughout the triple universe, the whole earth 
was rendered as it were another by interminable 
glittering Hemachalas,^ in its stately golden 
edifices in number untold, in its abundance of 
valuable jewels everywhere tossing about, by 
innumerable Indra's elephants, in its herds of 
spirited elephants. 

21 . Who, Durgavati, with her daily occupation, 
which consisted in unceasing donations of nullions 
of horses, elephants, and pieces of gold, depre- 
ciated in semblance by her exalted celebrity, the 
universal honour of Kamadhenu.* 

22. Mounted on an elephant in person, and by 
force over-mastering in many a battle prepotent 
adversaries, ever studious for the saf^;uard of' 
her subjects, she superseded, to all appearance, 
the protectors of the regions. 

23. Appropriating no less than the tribute of 
kings their illustrious world-difihised splendour, 
he, the fortunate Viranarayana as was his appcUa- 
tion, of renown illimitable, entered on adolescence. 

24. Subsequently, some time having elapsed, 
Asaf Khan with an army was deputed by 
King Akbar, Puruhuta* of the earth, all but 
compeer of Partha, * for the puipose of levjdng a 
contribution. 

^ A mythical golden mountain, Monnt Meru, north of the 
Himalayas. 

* A fabled cow capable of producing an inexhaustible supply 
of all objects of desire. 

* Pnruhuta-the god Indra. 

^ Aijnna, one of the five Pandu Princes. 

33 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

25. At the close of an engagement by this great 
warrior, a Bhima^ in prowess, whose armaments 
depressed the face of the earth, Durgavati, though 
she had vanquished his entire army, 

26. Being vexed with countless hostile arrows, 
clove her own head, in an instant, with a sword 
in her hand, as she sat on her elephant ; where- 
upon she penetrated the solar sphere, as did her 
son. 

27. Then was inaugurated the younger brother 
of King Dalpati, Chandrasahi ; an asyliun to the 
lordless people, a treasury, so to speak, of magnifi- 
cence ; the inextingui^able irradiator of his 
whole race ; opulent in glory. 

28. Of the wives of whose antagonists the trees, 
with their thorns, snatched away the robes and 
laid hold of the tresses ; while they, the ladies, 
exhibiting conflagrations in the sheen of their 
persons suddenly exposed consiuned them, the 
trees, with their sighs; and ever, from very 
wretchedness, they bore the bark of shrubs for 
clothing. Thus, in the forests, did they, in a 
manner wage strife with things immovable. 

29. Of this monarch a son was bom. King 
Madukarasahi, as of Siva, Shanmukha,* of 
honourable note; as if a receptacle of noble 
greatness. 

30. By the triumphs of whom — resistless in 
enterprise, as repeUing and destro3dng the im- 
petuous and overweening, stricken deaf with the 
rushing torrent of the clamour of his drums, 
enough to drown the roar of huge compact cata- 
clysmal rain-clouds newly come — ^achieved by the 

^ Bhima, another of the five Panda Princes; a great warrior. 
' Shanmtikha, a son of Shiva, generally called Kartikeya — 
one with six mouths. 

34 



HIRDE SHAH 

might of his arm^ and applauded by multitudes of 
his lieges, the quarters responsive oftentimes to 
this very day manifestly cause shame to their 
eight presiding deities. 

31. The son of this king was the fortunate 
Premanarayana ; accompUshing, through his 
a£9uence, the desires of the pure ; the collective 
lustre of the tribe of warriors; the incorporate 
energy of Smara;^ a domicile of good report; 
the exaltation of his family ; the complete estate 
of virtue; the measure of creative cunning; a 
repository of merits ; no path for reproach. 

32. Of whom — ^humbUng and routing a whole 
troop of chieftains, by the fresh dense surge of 
thousands of legions terrible with serried phalanxes 
of most infuriate elephants redolent from the 
Vindhyas — the adversaries, whose slumbers were 
straightway broken when first they perceived his 
refulgent grandeur, do not even yet readily leave 
the caves of the mountains, though separated 
from their wives. 

33. Kings indeed presumptuous should be rigor- 
ously coerced on the battlefield ; but one ought 
not to harbour animosity. Fame should be en- 
hanced by performing meritorious acts unremit- 
tingly among the people; but one must not 
foster pride. Their wishes should at all times 
whatever promptly be granted to petitioners; 
but one must not wait to be entreated. Such, 
obviously, is the duty of the rulers of this world ; 
and for the justness of these maxims the practice 
of Premasahi is an argument. 

34. Of him the auspicious lord Premasahi was 
bom another, the illustrious lord Hridaya, as he 
was called, a source of happiness to the pious, and 

^ Smara or Kamadeva, the Indian Cupid, slain by Shiva. 

35 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

mighty like his forefathers : as arises the year ; 
teeming with lunar days of numerous moments ; 
whose appearance commences with the first day 
of the moon's increase; ever augmented by 
months growing with nycthemera ; alternating 
with light and dark fortnights. ^ 

35. Thoroughly defending the entire world, this 
monarch especially befriends the helpless; as a 
cloud rains equably as it may, yet irrigates mo^t 
copiously the low places with its water. 

36. By which king have been assigned to Brah- 
mans, with the prescribed formahties of grants 
on plates of copper, sundry villages; begirt by 
lines of elegant gardens, rising with stuccoed 
dwelling-houses, inhabited by a substantial ten- 
antry, provided with pellucid meres stocked with 
water-Ulies, adorned with ample and frequent 
habitations of herdsmen, and with spacious tillage 
round about. 

37. Which king keeps up all his vast domain : 
where, from goodly mansions, may be recognised 
diversities of construction : which is visible from 
its fine towns and palm-trees; delightful from 
attachment to the body of revealed and memorial 
law ; independent of its borderlands ; captivating 
the heart by the presence of proper roads ; and 
easy of attainment only by men challenging 
admiration ; and he is likewise conversant in 
the science of melody and the dance, with its 
refinements. 

38. The whole earth and all potentates are 
enclosed in the hand of lord Hridaya. By the 
same were traced, midway on a golden wall, as it 
had been fifty inunense elephants. 

^ The Hindus divide the month into two periods, the 
moonltt and the dark. . 

36 



HIRDE SHAH 

39. It has been no matter of surprise at all^ that 
a minute stationary butt was transfixed by him^ 
who^ with his shafts, can sever, almost simul- 
taneously, at quite distinct points, an arrow 
launched obliquely. 

40. Who, at the time of the chase, hunting on 
foot, has, all of a sudden, slain, with his bolt, a 
tiger assaultmg from aloft, of forefront fearful as 
an enormous serpent's and formidable. R^;arding 
whom is this speech of Indra, when he was thus 
bespoken. 

41. "Prithee tell us, Vishnu, why art thou 
dejected ? " " What 1 is it not known to you, 
worthy deities, that this king Hridaya makes, on 
the earth, of Brahmans, many Satakratus ? " ^ 

• 42. Of this lord of the earth the queen is Sun- 
dari Devi, the abode of prosperity, as being, in 
effect, the wealth of merit, embodied. 

43. From whom are constantly obtained, by 
Brahmans, elephants, beauteous as dusky clouds, 
with the copious ichor of their frontal exudations ; 
given with the water of donation ever at hand ; 
precluding to the needy the cause of clustering 
miseries. 

44. Who shines resplendent throughout the 
world with her fair fame earned unceasingly by 
endowments in succession as ordained ; which 
endowments, finding, among the nations, straitened 
scope for encomium, reached to heaven ; giving 
forth such effulgence as a hundred autumnal 
moons would reaUse. 

45. Who observes, without intermission, the 
holy ordinances, by innumerable conservatory 
liberalities, in the making of reservoirs, gardens, 
ponds, and the like, entailing munificent gratuities. 

^ One who offers a hundred sacrifices « Indra. 

37 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

46. Who, establishing this fane^ has enshrined 
therein Vishnu, Sambhu,^ Ganesa, Durga,* and 
Tarani. • 

47. Who is there capable of fitly eulogising her, 
by whom an abode has been provided to the 
adorable Sankara, ^ Sridhara, ^ and others, deities 
as they are ? 

48. Who, the queen, evermore pays worship to 
the gods and to the comely Trivikrama as chief, in 
the Brahmans whom she employs in it, and by 
dispensing good cheer, by keeping jubilees, and 
by bestowing unmeted riches. Moreover, by the 
command of the king, the youthful Mrigavati 
constantly brings various articles of food for 
oblation to Muradwit.* 

49. Surpassingly victorious is the lord king 
Hridaya and pre-eminent in power by his cle- 
mency ; even as the moon, with its beams, 
subdues by the force of gentleness. 

50. At his behest, the clerkly Jayagovinda — 
son of the learned Mandana, of favourable repute, 
versed in the exegesis of the Mimansa, ^ a master 
of dialectic, and proficient in expounding the sacred 
oracles and their supplements — ^has composed, in 
epitome, this account relating to the sovereigns 
of his lineage. 

51. By dexterous artificers, named Sinhasahi^ 

^ Sambhu = Shiva. 

* Durga =s an Incarnation of the goddess Parvati, wife of 
Shiva. 

• Tarani = The Sun. 
« Sankara » Shiva. 

• Sridhara = Vishnu. 

* Krishna, who slew the demon Mura. 

^ One of the six schools of Hindu philosophy. 

38 



HIRDE SHAH 

Dayarama^ and Bhagirtha^ this temple was 
constructed. 

52. On the day of Vishnu, the light fortnight 
of Jyeshtha, in the year one thousand seven 
hundred and twenty-four, this record was tran- 
scribed by Sadasiva, and engraven by these 
skilful artisans aforesaid. 

Friday, the 12th day of the bright semilunation 
of JyeshlJia, in the year of Samvat 1724. 

From Hirde Shah onwards the history of 
Northern Gondwana moved away from Chau- 
ragarh and Garha, and centred more and more 
around Mandla. Its interest also rapidly declined. 
No great man or woman appeared in its pages. 
Pretty intrigue was constantly manifest. It was 
a house divided against itself, and it could not 
stand. No one arose to arrest its decay. Dis- 
trict after district fell away from it. Its revenues 
were spent in buying off its enemies, and when at 
length the Peshwa appeared, there was no power 
left to resist his insolent demands* 

And so, when Narhar Shah, the last of its ruling 
princes, was defeated by the Marathas near Garha, 
and sent to spend the rest of his days as a prisoner 
in the fortress of Khurai in Saugor, one almost 
breathes a sigh of relief, mingled it may be with 
regret, at the inglorious termination of the once 
famous Garha-Mandla dynasty. 

Just for a moment the descendants of these 
Gond Rajahs appeared again in the pages of 
histoiy. Pensioners of the British Raj, father 

39 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

and son .were convicted during the mutiny of 1857 
of a plot to foully murder the English residents of 
Jubbulpore, ah unworthy return to the power 
which had saved them from the Marathas. 
" Blown from the guns I '* Can anyone imagine 
a more wretched fate for the descendants of 
Sangram and Dalpat Shah ? And now a family^ 
which claims its descent from Queen Durgavati, 
lives in an obscure village of Damoh, fed by the 
bounty of the Ruling Power, 



40 



CHAPTER V 

DEOGARHj AND THE EASTERN MIDDLE GOND 

KINGDOM 

Far away from Northern Garha^ where the 
southern slopes of the Satpuras approach the plain 
country to the north of the Deccan, stands the 
fortress of Deogarh. Beneath it in former days 
lay the dty^ but to-day almost nothing remains 
but the tombs of the Gond kings. 

Those whose love of the past leads them across 
the fifteen miles of jungle country which now 
separates Deogarh from the main road leading 
from Nagpur to Chhindwara^ will never regret it, 
for the sight of the Gond fortress of Deogarh 
crowning a lofty hill and surrounded on three sides 
by deep valleys is an unexpected and striking one. 
Surely never was a spot more wisely selected for 
an old-world fortress than this, where secure from 
attack, and hidden away from the outer world, its 
rulers could dominate the rich lands which lay to 
the south, watered by the Wainganga and Kanhan, 
and levy toll on those adventurous merchants who 
dared to move across the wild coxmtry which 
separated the Deccan from Hindustan. 

Here it was that for long years the Gond kings 
of the Eastern Middle Kingdom held sway. Before 
their day men of another race had ruled over the 
wild Gond race in these regions. 

4! 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Whether those rulers were Rajputs of the 
Aiyan stocky or^ as is more probable^ GaoUs or 
shepherd kings^ Scytho-Dravidians by race, 
though Hindus by religion, is a matter which does 
not deeply concern us. Suffice it to say that, as 
in other parts of Gondwana so here, the Gonds 
only came into power and produced their rulers 
after some centuries of Hindu ascendency. Pro- 
bably the period of Gond ascendency at Deogarh 
was somewhat later than in the Northern Kingdom. 

Jatba^ was the first of his race to rule over his 
own people, and his rule did not conmfience till the 
fifteenth century. Many are the stories told of 
his greatness. To the Gonds his birth itself was 
miraculous. Bom of a Gond virgin under a bean 
plant, he was appropriately named Jatba (the 
bean). A large cobra protected the infant from 
the scorching rays of the s\m, as his village mother 
worked in the fields. When he grew up he took 
service in the Court of the twin Gaoli Rajahs 
Ransur and Ghansur. His strength was enormous. 
His arms were of exceptional length and power, 
which made him an antagonist whom few cared to 
face. On one occasion when asked to kill some 
buffaloes for a sacrifice at the feast of DiwaU, he 
decapitated them with his stick, which was 
converted into a sword by his patron goddess. 

Probably the fame of the Gond rulers of Garha- 
Mandla first stirred him and his fellow Gonds to 

^ There is a local tradition, which makes Jatba a descendant 
of Sarbasha — a Gond King of Garha, who conquered Deogarh. 

42 



DEOGARH, KAGARKHARA 



DEOGARH 

thoughts of an independent kingdom. Whatever 
it may have been^ the great step was taken on a 
day when^ in a State procession Jatba^ at the 
suggestion of the goddess^ vaulted on to the back 
of the royal elephant and most treacherously and 
savagely slew his royal masters. 

Thus began the reign of Jatba. It is to him^ 
tradition has it, that the city of Deogarh, with its 
famous fortress, mainly owes its existence. Here 
for over three centuries Gond Rajahs ruled, not 
only dominating the surrounding hilly country, 
but extending their influence away south into the 
plain country as far as the modem city of Nagpur, 
so that at one time this part of Gondwana was 
known as Deogarh above and Deogarh below the 
ghats. Under the fostering care of Jatba the 
kingdom of Deogarh steadily grew and the regions 
round Seoni and Chappara were in due time made 
part of it. 

It might have been thought that the very 
remoteness of its position would have saved 
Deogarh from the notice of the Moghul Emperors. 
This, however, was not the case. Close to it, not 
more than fifty or sixty miles away, stood Kherla, 
the capital of another Gond kingdom. And Kherla 
lay not far from the route down which the Moslem 
armies passed from Northern India into the 
Berars and Deccan. During one of their cam- 
paigns the attention of the Delhi Emperor was 
called to the hill fortress of Deogarh, and in due 
time Jatba's kingdom passed under some kind of 

43 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Moghul suzerainty. It is said that the Emperor 
Akbar visited Deogarh during Jatba's reign, 
and that Jatba afterwards paid a return visit to 
Delhi. 

After Jatba's death the kingdom was ruled well 
and wisely by his son and grandson, and con- 
tinued to grow. Greatest of all of Jatba's des- 
cendants, however, was Bakt Buland. Few, if 
any, of the Gond princes of Gondwana were quite 
as famous as he was. There is a tradition that, 
when a young man, Bakt Buland visited the 
Moghul Court at Delhi and held some post in the 
Court. There his gallantry and courage so charmed 
the Emperor, that Aurangzeb bestowed upon the 
Prince his name or title of Bakt Buland, " one of 
great respect." 

During his stay in Delhi, whether impressed by 
the truths of the Mohammedan religion, or for 
motives of political expediency, Bakt Buland 
embraced Islam, though there is not the slightest 
evidence that he used his influence on his return 
to Gondwana to induce his subjects to forsake 
their '* Animism " for this faith. Indeed, it is an in- 
teresting fact that while Bakt Buland's successors 
have continued to be Moslems to the present day, 
the fact that they are Mohammedans has never 
prevented them from marrying into Gond families, 
and being received ever3^where by their subjects 
as pure Gonds. When, for example, the present 
Gond Rajah, now a pensioner of Government, 
married, the bride was an ordinary Gond girl, and 

44 



DEOGAKH, THIi RIINFD THRONE 



DEOGARH 

the ceremonies took place at Deogarh according 
to the regular Gond rites. Only when all the 
customs of his fathers had been fulfilled was the 
bride received into the Mohanmiedan faith. 

But Bakt Buland was not content to remain 
always the humble vassal of the Moghul Emperor. 
When in later life the Moslem kingdoms of the 
Deccan were at war with one another, and Moghul 
power was declining, Bakt Buland, following the 
customs of his ancestors, began a systematic 
course of plimder in the Moslem territories and 
even annexed Kherla. So serious were his depre- 
dations that they were in due x^oiu'se brought to 
the notice of Aurangzeb. As on enquiry it was 
proved beyond doubt that Bakt Buland's offences 
had been great, an Imperial order was issued by 
which he was deprived of his fair soimding title, 
and his name changed to Nigun Bakt, *' Of mean 
fortune." 

We should be doing injustice to the memory of 
Bakt Buland if we allowed our readers to think 
that his courage and prowess were exhibited in 
nothing greater than the occupations of a brigand. 
Ever ready to defend what he considered a just 
cause^ and to stand by his Gond fellow-countiymen^ 
he readily responded to the cry for help which 
came to him from Garha-Mandla, when the Rajah, 
Narind Shah, was sore pressed by the rebellion 
of two Pathan feudatory chieftains. Indeed, so 
prompt and so effective was the assistance Hien 
rendered by Bakt Buland to the Northern Gond 

45 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Rajah, that the rebelKon was speedily put an 
end to, and the two Pathan chieftains were 
overpowered and slain. 

It is to Bakt Buland that the beginnings of 
Nagpur, the modem capital of the Central Pro- 
vinces, may first be traced. During his reign, the 
rich lands to the south of Deogarh, between the 
Wainganga and Kanhan rivers, were steadily 
developed. Hindu and Mohammedan cultivators 
were encouraged to settle in them on equal terms 
with Gronds, until this region became most 
prosperous. 

On the death of Bakt Buland, his son, Chand 
Sultan, succeeded him, and, unlike so many 
Indian princes, carried on vigorously the work 
which his father had begim. During his reign 
Nagpur was raised to the dignity of a walled city, 
and traces of its old walls and gates, as well as 
some of its Grond buildings, are still to be seen in 
the modem city. 

Then after days of prosperity came days of 
internal strife and dissension within the family 
of the ruling chief, until a fatal day dawned when 
the Marathas in Berar were invited by the Gond 
rulers to assist them in healing their intemal 
quarrels — and with this came the end, and the 
house of Jatba passed away, to give place for a 
hundred years to Maratha rule. 

To-day, almost under the shadow of the fort 
of Sitabaldi, at Nagpur, are the residences of two 
Rajahs, the pne a descendant of Jatba, and the 

46 



DEOGARH 

other a descendant of the Bhonsla who deposed 
the Gond dynasty^ both Rajahs, Gond and 
Maratha aUke, pensioners of the British Govern- 
ment ; and away to the north, beneath the 
fortress of Deogarh, may be seen the tcmibs of the 
Gond kings of this Eastern Middle Kingdom, while 
in a place by itself stands the solitary tomb of 
Jatba, the fomider of the line. 



47 



CHAPTER VI 

KHERLA, AND THE WESTERN MIDDLE GOND 

KINGDOM 

Within a few miles of the pretty little station of 
Betul stands a conical hill from whose summit one 
gains a fine view of the surrounding coimtry. 

Around the base of this hill can still be seen 
large portions of the old walls, with their pictur- 
esque gates and massive bastions, which were 
called on over and over again in days of old 
to withstand fierce attacks of the Moslem. On 
the summit of the hill there stands a partially 
ruined citadel, in which more than once a last 
brave stand was made by its defenders. 

Kherla, as this old fortress city is named, was 
for centimes a place from which various dynasties 
of kings ruled over the neighbouring country, and 
for a considerable period of this time Gond kings 
lived and ruled within its walls. 

From many points of view the situation of 
Kherla was admirable. Standing in the heart of 
the plateau country of the Satpuras, more than 
2,000 feet above sea-level, and not far from the 
source of the River Tapti, its open position was in 
marked contrast to the fortress city of Deogarh, 
where Jatba had built his capital. Kherla had, 
however, one fatal defect as compared with 
Depgarh. It was too near to the main highway 
which linked up Northern and Southern India. 

48 



KHERLA 

If one may venture to take an illustration from 
sacred history^ the [>osition of Kherla was not 
unlike that of Samaria, whereas the position of 
Deogarh, shut away in hilly countiy, was some- 
what like that of Jerusalem. And the varying 
histories of these two fortresses and kingdoms 
were, as might be expected, largely the outcome 
of their geographical position. For while the 
armies of Chaldea and Egypt, moving across the 
Holy Land, frequently turned aside to attack 
Samaria, leaving the rock-fortress of Jerusalem 
alone, so the Moslem armies, on their way to and 
from North and South India, passing by the great 
fortress of Asirgarh and across the Satpuras, con- 
stantly attacked Kherla, while Deogarh, fifty or 
sixty miles away in the heart of a hilly country, 
was left almost untouched. 

The fortress of Kherla seems in the course of 
history, to have been Uttle better than a shuttle- 
cock between the greater powers which lay to the 
north and south of it. Desired as a strong out- 
post both by the Moslem kings to the south, and 
the Moslem princes who ruled in Mandu to the 
north, it was never for long left undisturbed. 
Constantly was it drawn into contests, with 
which it had little concern, and from which it 
could reap no benefit. 

Long before the period of Gond rule, and before 
the Moslem invader moved southward, a Rajput 
dynasty had established itself at Kherla. These 
Rajputs were apparently great builders, and to 

4— (J550 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

them is ascribed the first building of the fortress 
of Kherla. To Jaitpal in particular^ the last 
and most distinguished of this line of rulers, is 
ascribed much of the beauty and strength of the 
fortress. 

Though a Hindu by religion^ while canying out 
his building schemes, he was guilty of a grave act 
of impiety, which hastened the end of his rule. 
In great straits for labour, he pressed into his 
service 300 Sadhus or '* holy men/' Those who 
know how these " b^gar saints '* are regarded in 
India can fully understand how such an act was 
r^arded. Rumours of the hardships to which 
these " holy men *' were subjected having reached 
Benares, the holy city of the Hindus, the feelings 
of that city were deeply moved. Mukund Raj, 
a Brahman of repute, was at once despatched to 
rebuke Jaitpal for his impiety, and to rescue the 
Sadhus from his unholy hands. As, however, 
Jaitpal was obdurate, Mukund Raj appears to 
have solved the problem by making the pickaxes 
of the Sadhus do their work, without the Sadhus' 
hands touching them I 

Jaitpal was succeeded by Narsingh Rai, who 
was the fifst Gond king to rule in Kherla. It is, 
however, open to question whether he was a pure 
Gond, as one tradition has it that he was the son 
of a marriage between a Rajput father and a Gond 
mother. His date seems to have been somewhat 
late in the fourteenth century. During his reign 
the kingdom of Kherla stretched away in a 

90 



KHERLA 

westerly direction into the hill country north of 
Berar, embracing the celebrated fortress of 
Gawalgarh near Chikalda. 

His reign was one of constant warfare. At one 
period we see him at war with the Moslem niler 
of Ellichpur in Berar. At another he is at war 
with the northern kingdom of Malwa. Feroz 
Shah> the Moslem King of Ellichpur^ was the first 
to invade his comitry. On that occasion, he laid 
si^e to Kherla, and actually captured Narsingh 
Rai's eldest son. Then for a short time the tables 
were turned, and Ellichpur was besi^ed by Nar- 
singh Rai. This good fortune did not, however, 
last for long, and shortly afterwards Narsingh Rai 
and his army were compelled to capitulate at 
Ellichpur. Then it was that Feroz Shah, with a 
view to winning the Gond prince over to his side, 
forgave him magnanimously, presented him with 
a robe of honour, and took one of his daughters 
into the royal harem. 

After this a fresh page in Narsingh Rai's che- 
quered history was opened, and we see the Gond 
prince an ally of the Moslem king of Ellichpur, 
and in consequence an object of the inveterate 
hostility of Hoshang, Moslem king of Malwa. 
More than once Kherla was invested by this 
famous warrior from Mandu, who swore to take 
it because Narsingh Rai had refused his alliance. 
Then again iot a brief period the wheel of fortune 
tiuned, and Narsingh Rai pursued the army of 
Hoshang when retreating from an unsuccessful 

51 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

invasion of the Deocan across his hilly country , 
and cut it in pieces. 

The next act of the drama took place when the 
Ellichpur king Ahmed Shah, Narsingh Rai's ally, 
was campaigning far away in Gujerat. Hoshang 
then seized his oppcxrtunity, and attacked his old 
enemy with renewed hatr^ and violence. In the 
battle which ensued, Narsingh fell, and Kherla 
passed into the hands of^ Hoshang. After this 
tragic event Kherla remained for a time in Hos- 
hang's hands, until the Ellichpur king again 
wrested it from his grasp, and incorporated it in 
the Moghul empire. After this Kherla became 
for a time the headquarters of a Mohammedan 
governor, and was under the Subah of EUichpur. 
With the decline of Moghul influence, howev^ , 
in the Deccan, Kherla passed into the hands of 
Bakt Buland, the famous Gond ruler of Deogarh, 
and from that time onwards it remained under 
Gond rulers until the rise of the Mafatha power. 
With this brief account of it we must unfortunately 
be content. Unlike the other Gond kingdoms of 
Gondwana, almost no records of its Gond rulers 
have been preserved for us. 

Not in such a r^ion as Kherla could Gond rule 
develop naturally along its own lines. Its true 
sphere was in remote places like Deogarh and 
Chaujda, where Moslem armies seldom came, and 
where king and people could Uve their Uves free 
from fears of the invader. 



52 



CHAPTER VII 

THE SOUTHERN GOND KINGDOM 

India has been described as the '' Land of Sur- 
prises/' and the first sight of Chanda is to most 
people a real surprise. Who would «cpect to 
find such a charming little dty^ hidden away in 
the heart of the jungles. There it has stood for 
the last five centuries with its beautiful crenelated 
walls and battlements which have suffered sur- 
prisingly little from time's or man's rough hands. 
Unlike the Gond capitals of Deogarh^ Kherla^ and 
Chauragarh^ Chanda stands in the open plains 
nu)re than 100 miles to the south of the Satpiu'as. 
If^ as is probable^ the original home of the Gond 
race was in the forest country of the Deccan^ the 
Gonds in the Chanda district are much nearer the 
rock from which they were hewn than are the 
Gonds away to the north in the Satpuras. 

Centuries before Khandkia Ballal Shah laid the 
foundations of the dty of Chanda^ other djoiasties 
of kings had ruled in this part of India. There 
had been, in this neighbourhood, in very early 
days, a great Hindu city Bhadravati, dedicated 
to Bhadra (a name for the god Shiva), the capital 
of the Vakataka kings. These kings ruled over 
a wide stretch of country from the Godavary to 
the Mahanadi, and nojthwards to the Mahadeo 

53 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

range of the Satpuras. Then when Buddhism 
penetrated mto the heart of India^ and for a time 
secured the faith and devotion of the more highly 
cultured Indians^ the city of Kosala eclipsed the 
glory of Bhadravati. 

How famous Kosala was may be seen from the 
description which Hiuen Tsang — a Chinese Budd* 
hist pilgrim — thought fit to give of it when writing 
in A.D. 639. '' One hundred monasteries are 
here and ten thousand Buddhist priests are among 
its inhabitants/' But Buddhism, with its high 
morality and philosophy of despair, never won the 
soul of the j>eoples of India, and in due course 
Kosala, and its Buddhist rulers, faded away, to 
be replaced by the Manas or Nagvansi (snake 
worshippers 1) kings of Wairagarh. 

It was at this period that visions of rule first 
dawned amongst the head-men of the Gond 
tribes. Tradition has it that it was to one man, 
Kol Bhil, whose name is a curious combination 
of the names of two other aboriginal races, that 
the Southern Gonds owe the b^innings of their 
rule. A man of great strength and wisdom, he 
first welded the Gond tribes together, and taught 
them the elements of civilisation. It is, however, 
with Bhim Ballal Singh that the Southern Gond 
d)masty actually b^ins. His capital was at 
Sirpur, on the right bank of the Wardha river, 
and his chief stronghold was the fortress of Manik- 
garh, in the hills behind Sirpur. For the first 
eight generations these Southern Gond kings 

54 



THE SOUTHERN GOND KINGDOM 

reigned at Sirpur, in the modem State of 
Hyderabad. 

Conspicuous amongst these rulers was Hir 
Singh^ the grandson of Bhim Ballal Singh. Brave 
in war^ and wise in administration^ he was the 
first to persuade his wild fellow-countrymen to 
cultivate the land. To him is attributed some- 
thing like a rudimentary land-revenue system. 
In the time of his grandson^ Dinkar Singh^ the 
culture of the Gond court improved. Though a 
self-indulgent character^ he was in some respects 
more enlightened than his predecessors. Gond 
bards flocked to his capital at Sirpur and pundits^ 
acquainted with Marathi, were encouraged to 
settle there. 

On his death his son Ram Singh succeeded him. 
Of him it is written — 

" Just and truthful in his intercourse with his 
subjects^ and daring and successful as a soldier^ 
Ram Singh governed the kingdom righteously and 
enlarged its bounds. To increase its security he 
erected several hill-forts on the south-west, and 
maintained a chosen band of warriors called 
' Tarvels/ These men had eaten the * taru ' 
(a rare orchid) with certain ceremonial obser- 
vances, and were supposed. to be invulnerable. 
To each of his Tarvels the King made grants of 
land." 

Ram Singh was succeeded by his son Surja 
Ballal Singh, who is one of the most romantic 
figures of old Gondwana. Handsome in person, 

55 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

and a lover of adventure^ he began his princely 
career by some years of wandering. After 
visiting Benares, the holy city of Hinduism, he 
journeyed to Lucknow, where he devoted himself 
to the study of war and song. His troubadour- 
like existence in Oudh, however, was cut short in 
a rather unpleasant manner. The looting pro- 
pensities of his Gond escort having reached the 
ears of the Emperor at Delhi, orders went out for 
the Gond prince's arrest. This was no easy 
matter, as his brave Tarvels were ever watchful 
of their master, and on several occasions proved 
more than a match for the imperial troops, who 
were sent from Delhi to arrest him. One day, 
however, when wandering near Lucknow, without 
his escort, BaUal Singh was captured, and carried 
off to Delhi, where he was kept in close confine- 
ment. Horrified at^ the capture of their brave 
prince, his escort of Tarvels hastened back to 
Gondwana to break the evil tidings at the Gond 
capital of Sirpur. Then it was that the " tocsin " 
resounded throughout the forest lands of Chanda, 
and the Tarvels were siunmoned by Jarba, the 
regent, to come speedily to the rescue of Ballal 
Singh. 

Meanwhile things had taken a turn for the better 
with Surja Ballal Singh. As he wiled away the 
weary hours of his captivity in song, it fell out 
one day that the Emperor's lovely daughter passing 
by that part of the palace where he was confined, 
heard him singing. Desirous of seeing the prince 

56 



THE SOUTHERN GOND KINGDOM 

who could sing so well^ she persuaded the 
Emperor to send for him. The result of this 
interview was just what Ballal Singh must have 
desired. Struck by his princely bearing the 
Emperor enquired whether Ballal Singh coidd 
fight as well as sing. On the Gond prince replying 
that he only longed for an opportunity of showing 
his skill in battle^ the Emperor allotted to him the 
difficult task of subduing the fortress of Mohan 
Singh which his own generals had failed to take. 
This Rajput prince had incurred the Emperor's 
displeasure by refusing to give his beautiful 
daughter to the imperial harem. 

Hardly had Ballal Singh accepted this honour- 
able tads^ and before he had time to start for 
Gondwana^ where he was about to raise an arm}' 
of Gonds^ there appeared before the gates of Delhi 
the Gond regent Jarba and an army of Tarvels 
and other Gonds, bent on the rescue of their 
prince. On learning the changed condition of 
affairs^ and that their prince was now a commander 
in the Moslem armies^ Jarba gladly agreed to 
accompany the expedition. 

Ten thousand picked soldiers from the imperial 
troops were added to the force, and Ballal Singh 
was soon on his way to the rebeUious State. The 
campaign was a brief and successful one. The 
Tarvels, under the leadership of their prince, 
performed miracles of valour, stormed the fortress, 
slew the Rajah, and captured his widow and 
daughter. 

57 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Then follows the romance of the story. The 
beautiful widow implored the chivahous Surja 
Ballal Singh to save her and her daughter from 
the imperial harem^ and he^ overcome by her 
charms^ rashly undertook to do so. His ta^ was 
by no means an easy one^ but Surja Ballal Singh 
eventually devised a plan by which he succeeded 
in deceiving the Emperor and acquiring the ladies 
for himself. 

A rumour was started by his orders among his 
troops, that his eldest son — a beautiful boy — had 
just arrived in camp. Disguising the beautiful 
young Rajputni princess in boy's dress, he placed 
her on the state elephant on which he himself 
rode triumphantly into Delhi. Proceeding to the 
imperial palace he announced his arrival^ and 
craved the audience of the Emperor. The Em- 
peror seated on his throne in the Diwan-i-Khass^ 
welcomed the victorious prince, and taking the 
beautiful child on his knee addressed him as his 
dear child. Then turning to Ballal Singh he 
asked of him : " Where, O Prince, is the fruit of 
thy victory ? " " Your Majesty holds her in 
your lap," replied the Gond prince, " and as you 
have called her ' Your dear child ' she can be 
nothing else to you.*' 

What the Emperor really felt about this trick 
which Surja Ballal Singh had played on him we 
are not told. His honour, however, was now 
involved, and he at once renounced all claim to 
the Rajput ladies, who later on accompanied the 

58 



THE SOUTHERN GOND KINGDOM 

Gond prince to his capital at Sirpur. It speaks 
well for an autocrat like the Emperor of Delhi 
that in spite of this act of deception he was ready 
to confer on Snrja Ballal Singh a dress of honour 
as a reward for his bravery. The title of " Sher 
Shah '* was also conferred on him, so that after 
his return from Delhi he was no longer known as 
Snrja Ballal Singh, but as Sher Shah Ballal Shah. 
Readers of Gond records cannot fail to be struck 
by the fact that while the earlier rulers of the 
Northern and Southern Gond dynasties are styled 
" Singh " (the Rajput title for a ruler), the later 
rulers are styled " Shah," an abbreviated form of 
Padishah, the Moslem teim for a ruler. Doubtless 
the change of title merely marked the decline of 
early Rajput influence, and the ascendency of the 
Mpghul power. 



59 



CHAPTER VIII 

CHANDA^ AND THE SOUTHERN GOND 

KINGDOM 

On the death of the ha-oic Surja^ his son Khandkia 
Ballal Shah came to the throne. Suffering con- 
stantly from ill-healthy it seemed hardly possible 
that his reign would add any lustre to the southern 
house of Gond kings. And yet, strange though 
it may seem, it was this very ill-health of their 
ruler which was destined to bring about a change, 
which did so much to strengthen the position of 
the Southern Gond kingdom. 

Khandkia's queen was a woman of more than 
ordinary discernment and decision of character. 
In her anxiety for his health she urged him to 
abandon the home of his ancestors at Sirpur, and 
to seek a healthier and more secure capital on the 
opposite side of the Wardha river. Acting on her 
advice, the Gond king moved his capital to a site 
on the high banks of the left bank of the 
Wardha river which still bears his name. There 
he built the picturesque fortress of Ballarshah — 
now partly in ruins — which commands a splendid 
view of the river and a wide sweep of Deccan 
country. 

Still suffering from his disease, he spent much 
of his time in the saddle, exploring the surrounding 
country, and hunting its game. It was while 

60 



CHANDA 

« 

engaged on one of his hunting expeditions that 
the event occurred which led to the founding of 
the city of Chanda. Riding one day some ten 
miles from Ballarshah^ he became extremely 
thirsty, and while walking his horse up the dry> 
bed of a small river, to his great joy discovered 
a small pool of water in its rocky bed. Dis- 
mounting he greedily drank the cool water, and 
bathed his face and hands in the pool. That night 
on his return, to Ballarshah, he slept as he had not 
slept for years. In the morning when he awoke 
his queen noticed that the swellings and tumours 
which had disfigured his handsome face and body 
for some years had almost vanished. In her 
delight she questioned him closely about the pool 
in which he had bathed, and being convinced that 
there was more in it than ordinary water, she 
implored Ballal Shah to take her over to it that 
very morning. 

On reaching the spot orders were at once given 
to have all the grass and jungle removed from 
around the pool, when, to the wonder and delight 
of the king and queen, as well as to the assembled 
court, five deep footprints of the sacred cow were 
seen in the solid rock, each filled with an unfailing 
supply of water. Further enquiry made it dear 
that this spot was none other than the resting- 
place of the great god Achaleshwar^ "The 
Immovable One.'' 

Further bathing in its sacred waters soon re- 
stored the king to complete healthy and removed 

61 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

all his bodily disfigurements. Not long after- 
wards^ to confirm this great discovery^ the god 
Achaleshwar appeared in a night vision to the 
happy king. Th^i again the good sense of his 
queen stood Khandkia Ballal Shah in good stead. 
Possessed of a genius for taking hints from either 
gods or men, she made it quite dear to the king 
that the god Achaleshwar expected him to build 
a temple over the sacred pools in his honour. 
Plans of the temple were speedily prepared, stone 
was quarried, the foundations were laid with due 
ceremony, and before many months the temple of 
Achaleshwar was rising from the ground, a temple 
which still stands, after 500 years, in memory of 
Khandkia Ballal Shah's restoration to health and 
happiness. 

While this temple was in process of construe^ 
tion, another event occurred which was to lead to 
the founding of the city of Chanda. It was the 
king's custom to ride over from Ballarshah from 
time to time to see how the work at the temple 
progressed. On his rides he was invariably 
accompanied by a faVourite dog. One day when 
riding back to Ballarshah, and while dose to the 
temple, a hare darted out of a bush, and strange 
to rdate began to chase his dog. The dog fled 
in wild terror with the hare in close pursuit. 
Astonished at the sight, the king followed the 
chase as closely as he could. At times, with a 
view of shaking o£E his pursuer, the dog ran in 
wide circles, while the hare took a shorter and 

82 



CHANDA 

more ^grag course. On one occasion the ha^e 
actually closed with the dog, only to be quickly 
shaken ofi. And so the race continued until both 
the animals were nearly exhausted. Then when 
they were approaching the place Where the race 
had begun, after a circular chase of nearly seven 
miles, the dog in wild desperation turned on the 
hare, and after a sharp struggle killed it. 

Approaching the dead hare, the Gond Rajah 
observed for the first time that on its forehead 
was a strange white mark or " tika." Full of his 
strange adventure he rode back to Ballarshah to 
tell the story to his sympathetic queen. Again her 
genius penetrated into the inner meaning of this 
mysterious occurrence. It was clearly an omen 
sent by the gods that Khandkia Ballal Shah was 
again to change his capital, and build a fortified 
city around the temple of Achaleshwar. The 
chase was but the god^s own method of town- 
planning. The walls of the city must be built 
over the tracks of the sacred hare — strong bastions 
must be built at the places where the dog had 
made his circular detour — and special fortifica- 
tions would be needed where the hare had closed 
with the dog, and also where the dog had slain 
the hare; for these would always be danger 
zones in the new city. Thus was begun the 
city of Chanda, or Chandrapur, which, according 
to some, derives its name from the moon, and 
according to others from the white spot on the 
hare's forehead, 

63 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Khandkia Ballal Shah was succeeded by his son 
Shah, in whose reign the country prospered. 
Like his remote ancestor, Hir Singh of Sirpur, his 
mind was bent on the improvement of agriculture 
in South Gondwana. Calling the trusty Tarvels 
to a banquet, he urged on them the duty of 
clearing and cultivating the lands which his 
grandfather had bestowed on them. To every* 
one who cleared his lands of forest and jungle, was 
offered the rights of ownership, whereas those who 
through laziness and apathy refused to do so, 
were duly warned that their lands would be 
confiscated. Nor was Hir Shah content with 
merely issuing orders on these subjects. From 
time to time it was his custom to tour throughout 
his wild State, for the purpose of seeing for himself 
how his orders had been obeyed. Boundaries 
were then marked out^ and ** sanads,'* or rights 
of tenure, were formally bestowed on worthy land- 
holders. Special rewards also were given to those 
who had constructed tanks on their prqperty — 
and those who had made irrigation channels or 
canals were often given all the land which their 
waters reached. 

In this way much of the wild country was 
brought under cultivation, and numbers of the 
migratory Gonds were drawn into the quiet life 
of the agriculturist. It is to Hir Shah in particular 
that the Chanda district owes so many of its 
splendid tanks. 

Once a year all landowners appeared before 

64 



CHANDA 

the Rajah at Chanda to pay their rents and 
exhibit their ploughs and other field implements. 
By this means a rough calculation of the value of 
their property was made. 

In Hir Shah's reign the massive gates of Chanda, 
with their quaint emblem of Gond sovereignty — 
** the elephant helpless in the grasp of a gigantic 
tiger/' which resembled the mastodon of pre- 
historic days, were completed. To him also 
belongs the honour of building the citadel and 
the palace, parts of which still remain, though 
degraded to the less noble uses of a jail and police 
station I Of Hir Shah it is specially recorded that 
he paid tribute to no foreign kii^, so that any 
over-lordship on the part of the Bahmani kings 
of the Deccan — which had hitherto existed — from 
bis time passed away. 

On his death his two sons Bhuma and Lokba 
jointly ruled the kingdom, according to a scheme 
laid down by their father. Fortunately no 
jealousy or rival ambitions were felt by either of 
them. Those were merry days in Chanda, like 
the days of Good Queen Bess in England. In the 
summer season the various Gond chieftains and 
headmen waited on their princes, with bodies 
painted in divers colours, and adorned with 
various ornaments, such as peacocks' feathers, 
beetles' wings, tiger and panther sldns, and the 
horns of the young bison. Each headman brou^t 
with him specimens of the various products found 
on his estate, both animal and v^etable^ and the 

65 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

festivities concluded with a great banquet at the 
royal palace. 

There was a pleasing diversity among these old 
Gond rulers of Chanda. Some were stem war* 
riors^ full of ambition to extend their territories ; 
while others were more peacefully inclined, who 
won their triumphs in the devdopment of the 
resources of their forests and jungles. 

Kam Shah, the grandson of Hir Shah, belonged, 
however, to another and less conunon type of 
ruler. Thoughtful and religious, he was from the 
first strongly attracted to the Hindu religion. A 
lover of its sacred books, Brahmans and Pandits 
soon flocked to his kingdom, and were rewarded 
with fields and villages free of rent. Lingas of 
Mahadeo were set up in many places, new temples 
built and old temples restored. Justice, too, was 
administered as never before. Before his days — 
so l^end has it — no king in South Gondwana ever 
dreamt of interfering in the disputes of his 
subjects, and every ntian was his own judge and 
high-executioner. If anyone had appealed to the 
king for justice when their relations had been 
murdered, the king had but one reply, ''Slay 
your enemy." In Kam Shah's days thb state of 
things was no longer tolerated. Justice was evenly 
administered, and habitual offenders were banished 
from the State. Falsehood and perjury woe 
punished with the utmost severity, and men 
dwelt securely under the shadow of their vines 
and fig-trees. 

66 



CHANDA 

Seldom is any mention made of these jungle 
kingdoms in the annals of the Imperial Court at 
Delhi^ but so prosperous and important had 
Southern Gondwana become at this period that 
in the Ain-^i-Akbari^ or Chronicles of Akbar^ it 
is recorded of Babaji Ballal Shah^ Kam Shah's 
son^ '* that he paid no tribute to Delhi^ and pos- 
sessed an army of 10,000 cavaliy and 40,000 
infantry." In his reign the city of Wairagarh— 
the capital of their hereditary foes — ^was added 
to the kingdom of Chanda. 

As one endeavours to piece together the frag- 
mentary accounts which we possess of the four 
kingdoms of old Gondwana, one caimot help 
asking the question as to the connection, if any, 
which existed between them. Were they friends 
and allies, or in the usual condition of suspicion 
and hostiUty which was characteristic of most 
Indian States at that period ? 

It certainly seems as if, during one period, the 
kingdom of Chanda penetrated into the Satpura 
country, and encroached very considerably on 
the kingdom of Deogarh. On the other hand, our 
scant records tell us of but one war waged between 
the houses of Chanda and Deogarh, and that as a 
consequence of an unhappy marriage. 

At the time of this marriage between the ruling 
houses of these two kingdoms both were at the 
height of prosperity, and bound to one another 
by some kind of treaty. Abul-1-Fazl speaks of 
the strength of Deogarh as then being very 

67 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

considerable^ ''fifty thousand foot, and two 
thousand cavahy and pne hundred elephants/' 
We have aheady seen what the strength of 
Chanda was. 

The quarrel arose in the following manner : 
Bir Shah, one of the most distinguished princes 
of Chanda, had given his daughter to Durgpal, 
a prince of the royal house of Deogarh. Durgpal, 
who most probably had never seen the princess 
till the day of his marriage, seems to have taken 
a violent dislike to his bride, and to have insulted 
her in some inexcusable way. Bir Shah in wild 
anger vowed that he would never rest till he had 
placed the head of the ntiiscreant Durgpal on the 
top of the shrine of the great goddess Kali at 
Chanda. _ 

A bloody battle ensued, and in its earlier stages 
everything went well with the Moslem Gond king 
of Deogarh. Bir Shah was on the point of being 
captured, when drawing the sacred sword jof his 
house, and with a loud voice invoking the aid of 
Maha Kali, he rushed on Durgpal, and with one 
blow deprived his son-in-law of his head. After 
the death of their prince the army of Deogarh lost 
heart and fled, and Bir Shah returned with his 
triumphant army to Chanda. And to-day, high 
up on the roof of the lofty temple of Maha Kali, 
which Ues outside the city walls of Chanda on its 
southern side, one may see a head carved in stcme 
gazing away northwards to Deogarh, which recalls 
the story of the unfortunate Durgpal. 

68 



CHAND A 

Bit Shah's own end was even more tragic than 
that of his son-in-law. It came to him on the 
day of his second marriage. There is an old 
Indian custom that part of the bridegroom's duty 
on the marriage day is to fetch the bride from her 
father's house to his own. For some years there 
had been at Bir Shah's court a Rajput named 
Hiraman, renowned for his skill at arms and 
believed to be the possessor of a magic sword. 
More than once Bir Shah had asked this rather 
mysterious person to reveal to him the secret of 
his sword^ but to no purpose. And for the last 
time on this happy day, before the royal proces- 
sion set out to the bride's house, he again asked 
him, half in banter, to explain to him the secret. 
Hitherto silent and sullen, Hiraman suddenly 
burst forth into a fierce passion, and before the 
courtiers could intervene, killed the king, and 
then killed himself. So perished Bir Shah, one 
of the bravest and best of the Gond kings of 
Chanda. And to mark the deep sense of loss at 
his tragic death, the noblest of all the tombs in 
Chanda was raised over his grave, close to the 
temple of Achaleshwar. 

And now we must draw our tale of the Gond 
kings of Chanda to an end. Of them we know 
feir more than of the other kings. Only in the 
days of Sangram Shah and Durgavati, and in the 
days of Bakt Buland, did the Gond kingdoms of 
Northern Garha-Mandla, and Deogarh, at aU rival 
the greatness of the southern house. Unlike the 

68 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

other Gond kingdoms^ the house of Chanda seems 
to have had a long succession of good and intelli- 
gent rulers, who resisted the natural temptations 
to inner strife and intrigue, which, as we have 
already seen, brought destruction to the other 
kingdoms. Indeed, so famous for wisdom and 
uprightness was Ram Shah, one of the last kings 
of Chanda, that it is reported of him that when 
Raghuji Bhonsla, the Maratha leader, visited 
Chanda, with a view to seeking a pretext for a 
quarrel, he ended his visit by almost worshipping 
him as a god. 

" Well would it have been,** so Canon Wood 
writes in his article on Chanda, '* if the fast failing 
thread of the Gond rule had been severed at Ram 
Shah's death." 

For Ram Shah's son and successor, Nilkanth 
Shah, was an evil and cruel ruler, who dismissed 
his father's most trustworthy councillors, ground 
down his subjects, and interfered foolishly and 
needlessly in the political disputes of Deogarh. 
And all the time the Maratha foe was but waiting 
for his opportunity, and when he again approached 
the gates of the royal city of Chanda, it was not 
by force of arms, but by the treachery of a 
discontented people, that he triumphed. 

Certainly the achievements of the southern 
house of Gondwana were quite remarkable. 
"Originally but petty chiefs of a savage tribe, 
they spread their kingdom over a wide stretch 
of country, reclaiming much of the forest land, 

70 



CHANDA 

peopling them with a prosperous people^ and 
keeping their country free from the foreign invader. 
And when at length they passed away, they left 
a well-governed kingdom, prosperous to a point 
which has not since been reached/' 



71 



CHAPTER IX 

NAGPUR 
THE MARATHA PERIOD, 1743-18S3 

The map of ancient India differed a good deal 
from its map to-day. The country to the south 
of Nerbudda was roughly divided ethnographi- 
cally by Hindu geographers into five parts : 
"Draved" on the extreme south, "Telingana" 
and the " Camatic " in the centre, " Gondwana " 
to the north of Telingana, and '' Maharasthra " 
to the north of the Camatic. 

Maharasthra was the home of the Marathas. 
From it they took their name. It was a large 
tract of country, which in its northern portion 
included some of the Satpura hill country, while 
its south-western portion extended along the 
coast line as far as Goa. 

Risley, in his Peoples of India, seems to think 
that the Maratha race owes its origin to an ancient 
Scythian invasion of India. These Scythian in- 
vaders intermarried largely with the Dravidian 
races, whom they conquered, and settled down to 
a life, partly agricultural, but chiefly pastoral. 
Though Hindus in religion, and speaking a lan- 
guage which is derived from Sanskrit, the 
Marathas retain special customs of their own, and 
still exhibit many marked features of character 

72 



NAGPUR 

and appearance^ which separate them from the 
other peoples of India. 

Before the Mohammedan invasions of India, 
Maharasthra was divided into States of varying 
size and importance, most of them small. Unlike 
Gondwana, it lay on the direct route between 
Northern and Southern India, and soon passed 
under Mohanunedan domination. During the ear- 
Uer days of Mohanunedan rule in the territories 
south of the Nerbudda, and for long years after 
the Bahmani revolt from Delhi, the Marathas 
were content to live under what was to thein an 
alien rule. Many of them filled various offices 
of distinction in Moslem States. When, however, 
the Bahmani d}aiasty, after a century and a half 
of rule, broke up into the five, and afterwards 
three, Moslem kingdoms of the Deccan ; when 
southern Moslems were divided against their 
brethren, and the Moghul emperors of Delhi with 
their varying and generally aggressive policy, only 
added to the pohtical unrest of the cotmtry, the 
first movement towards an independent national 
rule awoke amongst the Marathas. They had 
learnt from their conquerors how to rule and how 
to fight, and they began to turn their lessons to 
account. Little did the Moghul Emperor Aur- 
ungzeb realise when he contemptuously styled 
the Maratha leader Sivaji '' a moimtain rat,'' that 
the Maratha forces which this remarkable man 
was beginning to arouse would within a century be 
around his capital, Delhi, and at the battle of 

78 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Panipat be even threatening the supremacy of 
his empire. 

It is not my intention to touch on the general 
history of the Marathas. 

It is sufficient for our purpose to trace briefly 
the connection of the Maratha kingdoms with the 
old Gond kingdoms of the Central Provinces. 

More than two generations had passed since 
Sivaji had been gathered to his fathers, before 
the Marathas finally established their rule in old 
Gondwana. It is always a dangerous eicperiment 
to summon outside help to settle internal quarrels. 
Those who are invited have an unpleasant way of 
staying on, when their stay is no longer welcome. 
Chand Sultan's widow was naturally anxious about 
her son Burhan Shah's succession to his Cither's 
throne, and was justly indignant at the usurpation 
of Wali Shah, a natural son of the great Bakt 
Buland. She and her advisers, however, can 
hardly have realised the character of those from 
whom they sought help. Not that Raghuji 
Bhonsla, the Maratha ruler of Berar to whom she 
appealed, treated her and the Gond kingdom 
badly, for it is dear that he showed them far more 
consideration than many of his compatriots would 
have done. His response to the first cry for help 
was merely to dispossess the usurper, and to assist 
in putting Burhan Shah on his throne. When he 
had done this, he retired to his capital at EUichpur 
in Berar. 

But Burhan Shah was a poor creature, and 

74 



NAGPUR 

almost immediately after his trouble with Wali 
Shah, was involved in strife with one of his own 
brothers, Akbar Shah. Those were evil days in 
Gondwana. Gond fought against Gond, and on 
one occasion no less than 12,000 Gonds were 
massacred in cold blood by Akbar Shah. Again 
Raghuji was summoned, and this time he decided 
to stay. Burhan Shah was obviously too weak 
to keep order over the fair lands which the genius 
and courage of his grandfather, Bakt Buland, had 
bequeathed to him, and so Raghuji made up his 
mind to take the reins of govenmient out of the 
hands of the feeble Gond Rajah. Even then, 
however, he showed no harshness to him, and 
treated him with an outward show of respect. 
Burhan Shah remained the nominal ruler of the 
kingdom to the end of his days and, what is more, 
received a fixed share of tiie revenues of his 
country. Thus in this bloodless fashion the 
Maratha began his rule over the Central Provinces. 
Before, however, we proceed further, it may be 
well to say a word or two about this Maratha 
family of Bhonslas, who ruled over Gondwana for 
nearly one hundred years. The founder of their 
family was Mudhoji Patel of Deor, a small State 
in the Bombay Presidency. Mudhoji had been 
a distinguished cavalry leader in the armies of 
Sivaji. His son Parsoji, as a reward for military 
service in the early Maratha wars, was made 
governor of Berar, the coimtry which lay on the 
borders of Gondwana, with the right of collecting 

75 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

*' Chauth ** or revenue in that country. Parsoji 
was in due course succeeded by his nephew, the 
above-mentioned Raghuji, who was the first 
Maratha ruler of Nagpur. Of Raghuji it has 
been said " he was a perfect type of a Maratha 
ruler. He saw in the troubles of others only an 
opening for his own ambition and did not require 
a further pretext for plunder and invasion." 

No sooner did Raghuji find himself .established 
in Nagpur than he at once developed his plans for 
conquering all the surrounding country. The city 
of Chanda, the capital of the Southern Gond 
kingdom, was delivered up to him by treachery in 
1749. Maratha rule spread rapidly in a northern 
direction, and the fate of Chanda soon overtook 
Kherla. Beforci Raghuji's death, in 1755, much 
of the country between the Godavery and the 
Nerbudda, and from the Bay of Bengal to the 
extreme east of Berar, was pa3dng tribute or 
" Chauth "— " 25 per cent, of the land tax "—to 
this Maratha ruler. 

During Raghuji's time a great change passed 
over the southern portion of the Central Provinces. 
Large numbers of Kumbhis (the cultivating class 
of Marathas) and of other Maratha tribes poured 
into the Nagpur country. Gondi, the old lan- 
guage, ceased to be spoken, and Marathi took its 
place. And with the change the old Gond 
population withdrew more and more into the 
wilder parts of the country. 

The early Maratha rulers of Nagpur were 

76 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

which^ on account of the Maratha annexation of 
Orissa^ had come into close contact with British 
territories in Bengal. 

Hitherto the Northern Gond kingdom of Garha- 
Mandla had been regarded as but part of the 
Peshwa's dominions and was ruled from Poona. 
In 1785^ however^ it was definitely added to the 
kingdom of Nagpur by a treaty in which Mudhoji 
agreed to pay twenty-seven lakhs into the trea- 
sury at Poona. Mudhoji was, on the whole, a 
sensible ruler, and before his death in 1788 was 
able to hand over a tranquil and fairly prosperous 
State to his son Raghuji. 

At the time of Raghuji II's accession, the king- 
dom of Nagpur embraced practically the whole of 
the present Central Provinces with Berar, the 
province of Orissa, and some of the Chota Nagpur 
States. Its annual revenue was estimated at 
nearly one million pounds. Its army consisted of 
18,000 cavalry, a strong feature in all Maratha 
armies, with 25,000 infantry and 4,000 Arabs. 
The artillery was considerable, and included about 
ninety guns. It is interesting to note, how- 
ever, that Raghuji's army was recruited for 
the most part outside Gondwana, the cavalry 
coming from Poona, and its neighbourhood, and 
the infantry from the fighting races of Rajputana 
or Arabia. 

Up to 1803 it is generally adnutted that the 
administration of the southern part of Gondwana 
was not without its good points. Descended as 

78 



NAGPUR 

they were from the yeomen dass, the Bhonsla 
rulers of Nagpur fetvoured agriculture^ and though 
rapacious, were seldom deliberately cruel. They 
bdieved, like all Oriental lulers, in the personal 
touch of the ruler, and their Rajah might be seen 
from time to time, in the early mornings, sitting 
on his throne in the Public Hall of Audience, 
which opened on the main street of Nagpur, with 
sword and shield beside him, discussing with his 
ministers and miUtary captains, the different 
problems of his State. At such times he was 
ready to Usten to the appeals and complaints of 
his subjects, a privilege very dear to the Oriental, 
who feels that more than half of his troubles have 
passed away if the " Sircar *' gives ear to the voice 
of his complaint. 

During the early period of Raghuji II's reign 
the links between the Nagpur State and the 
Bengal Government grew firmer, and in 1796 Mr. 
G)lebrooke was appointed Resident at the Court 
of Raghuji. Well would it have been for Raghuji, 
if he had more fully realised the importance of 
keeping on good terms with the Briti^ and had 
not allowed himself to be drawn first into 
intrigue, and then into open hostility, against 
them. 

Mr. Colebrooke had hardly been in Nagpur for 
two years when indicaticms of a curious change 
in Raghuji's attitude became apparent to him. 
Secretly encouraged by the Peshwa, the nominal 
leader of the Maratha Confederacy, Raghuji 

79 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

collected an army^ and threw in his lot with 
Scindhia, then our bitter foe. 

Shortly after Scindhia's defeat at Assaye by the 
Duke of Wellington, then Sir Arthur Wellesley, 
a similar feite befell Raghuji, at Argaon, followed 
almost immediately by the loss of his great for- 
tress of Gawalgarh, near Chikalda. Nothing 
remained then for Raghuji but to accept peace on 
any terms. Shorn of his territories in the Berars 
and Orissa, his revenue fell to nearly one-half of 
its former amount. 

From this time onwards Raghuji's character 
steadily deteriorated. Adversity seems only to 
have embittered him. Determined to show as 
proud a front as ever to the world, he began to tax 
his unfortunate subjects unmercifully. Opening 
nimibers of shops in the bazaar he compelled 
people to buy in them, while charging exorbitant 
prices. Soon he became known as the '"Big 
Bania " or " Big Shopkeeper." Jealous and sus- 
picious of everyone, he found no one ready to 
serve him. Has unpaid army turned into bands 
of .dacoits, who looted the countiy-side far and 
wide. For security against them the villagers 
even raised forts in their villages, remains of 
which may still be seen. Forty years after his 
death old men spoke pathetically of the misery of 
those days. "They sowed in sorrow with little 
hope of reaping. When they did reap, they 
buried their com in the ground." And so when 
Raghuji II died, the kingdom of Nagpur was in 

80 



NAGPUR 

a state of abject misery and poverty such as had 
never been seen in earlier Gond days. 

Nor did the succeeding years bring much relief. 
Raghuji's son^ Parsoji^ was blind^ paralysed^ and 
shortly after his accession lost his reason. Mudhoji^ 
a nephew of the late Rajah, was then appointed 
Regent. On his appointment things looked at 
first more hopeful. A new British Resident, Mr. 
Jenkins, succeeded Mr. Mountstuart Elphinstone, 
our second Resident, and it seemed as if Mudhoji, 
under his guidance and advice, was ready to do all 
in his power to improve the condition of his State. 
Owing to straitened finances the army was 
reduced, and on 28th May, 1816, a treaty of 
defensive alliance was signed, by which the British 
East India Company agreed to maintain six regi- 
ments of infantiy with cavalry and artillery, while 
Parsoji was to pay 7^ lakhs (£75,000) annually 
for the upkeep of 2,000 cavalry and 2,000 footmen. 

Thus matters stood at the beginning of 1817, 
when Mudhoji the Regent left Nagpur ostensibly 
to visit the Chanda portions of his territories. 
Hardly, however, had he left his palace when the 
Rajah was found dead in his bed poisoned, so it 
was afterwards proved, by the Regent's orders, 
and as Parsoji had no heir, and as no one was 
prepared to prove that Mudhoji was the murderer, 
he^ as his next of kin, was appointed Rajah. 

Then a complete change came over this un- 
scrupulous ruler. Dropping all concealment he 
at once showed himself in his true colours. In 

81 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

spite of continued professions of friendship to 
Mr. Jenkins^ he openly conspired with the other 
chieftains of the Maratha Confederacy, the Peshwa 
and Scindhia, to destroy British rule and influence 
in India. By November, 1817, affairs had assumed 
so grave an aspect that Mr. Jenkins felt it necessary 
to sununon all available troops to his assistance 
at Nagpur. 

Before they could reach him, however, Mudhoji, 
popularly known as '* Appa Sahib," determined to 
strike his blow. As a prdiminary step, and to 
show openly his contempt for the British, he 
invited Mr. Jenkins and his staff to witness in 
Durbar his investiture as a " Sunobut " or Com- 
mander-in-Chief in the Peshwa's army, the Peshwa 
being then at war with us. 
' It being now clear that open hostilities ware 
inevitable, Cokmel Hopetoun Scott with a brigade 
of two battalions of Madras troops, and four six- 
poundars, manned by Europeans of the Madras 
artillery, was ordered to move swiftly from the 
lines at Telinkheri, and to occupy the small hill 
of Sitabaldi which overlooks the city of Nagpur. 

Hardly had our troops occupied Sitabaldi when 
Appa Sahib's attack began. The Maratha forces 
numbered fully 18,000 men, of whom nearly 4,000 
were Arabs. Their artillery amounted to thirty- 
six gims. Against this army Mr. Jenkins had 
but 1,800 Madras infantry, and four guns I 

The battle of Sitabaldi, as it is called, began as 
late in the day as six o'clock on the evening of 



NAGPUR 

the 26th of November. The hill from which it 
takes its name consists of two summits^ connected 
by a narrow neck^ the northern summit^ about 
300 feet high^ being sUghtly lower than the 
southern. As the northern summit^ however, 
commanded the native city, it was naturally of 
special importance. The surface of the hill being 
almost entirely of rock, our troops could do but 
little in the way of entrenchment. Three hundred 
of our troops were left to hold this lower hill, 
while most of the remainder xmder Colonel Scott 
took up a position on the higher eminence. Be^ 
neath this higher hill lay the old Residency with 
the Resident, his staff, and a few English ladies. 
Within the Residency grounds were 200 infantry, 
and a small body of Bengal cavalry under Captain 
Fitzgerald. 

Over and over again during the night deter- 
mined efforts were made by the Marathas to rush 
the northern hill. None of the attacks, however, 
were quite successful, though pressed with great , 
energy, and with heavy losses on both sides. 
When, however, morning broke, on 27th Novem- 
ber, the position was absolutely desperate. Though 
reinforced jnore than once during the night, the 
numbers of defenders on the lower hill had 
dwindled to an alarming extent. Indeed, at 
nine o'clock in the morning it seemed as if all 
must be over in an hour or two at most, as the 
Arab troops, after a tremendous onslaught, 
&tvoured by the explosion of one of our small 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

gunpowder tumbrils^ gained the summit of the 
lower hill, overpowered our sepoys, and turned 
our gim upon the higher hiU. Simultaneously 
with this a body of the Maxatha cavalry succeeded 
in forcing their way into the grounds of the 
Residency. 

Then it was that the courage of one British 
officer saved the day. More than once during 
that eventful morning. Captain Fitzgerald had 
asked permission of his superior officer to charge, 
and had, as often, been prevented. Now when 
destruction seemed inevitable, he made his final 
request. 

The reply to his last appeal, if Grant Duff's 
version of tiie story is to be accepted, was hardly 
an encouraging one. '^ Tell him to charge at his 
peril " (or " At the hazard .of his commission "), 
was the message which reached him. "If j^nly 
at the hazard of my conunission, here goes,'' was 
Fitzgerald's reply, as at the head of his 300 
Bengal Lancers he charged the Maratha cavalry. 

Only for an instant did the Marathas resist this 
unexpected attack, and then th^ scattered in all 
directions, leaving behind them a small battery 
by which they had been supported. After pur- 
suing them for a short distance Fitzgerald drew 
in his cavalry, and rode back to the Residency in 
triumph with the captured guns. 

Filled with fresh courage by this splendid 
deed of daring, our troops on the hill, though 
exhausted by fifteen hours' fighting, charged down 

84 



NAGPUR 

from the higher hill, and regained their lost 
position ; and then with an almost superhuman 
effort the whole of our infantry, backed by the 
cavalry, charged down on the Marathas at the 
foot of the hill, capturing many of their guns and 
putting them to flight. By midday the fight was 
over, a fight which should ever be remembered 
with pride by all the sons of our Empire* How 
bloody it had been can be seen from the fact that 
a quarter of our total forces had been killed and 
wounded, including sixteen British officers. 

All, however, was not yet over. Though badly 
beaten, Appa Sahib did not surrender ; and col- 
lecting his scattered forces prepared for a fresh 
attack. Fortunately, however, for the British 
in Nagpur, the reinforcements which had been 
summoned, reached them during the next few 
days, and when Appa Sahib was again ready to 
attack, about a fortnight later, our position and 
numbers made us confident of the issue. 

Hardly had the second battle of Nagpur begun, 
when word went out that Appa Sahib had actually 
surrendered. This, however, proved to be but a 
Maratha ruse, as when our troops advanced to 
take possession of his guns, a treacherous can- 
nonade was at once opened on them. After severe 
fighting, in which rather heavy losses were in- 
curred, the Maratha position was stormed, and 
the whole of their camp with forty elephants and 
sixty-three guns were taken. 

Appa Sahib's career as a ruler did not, strange 

85 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

to relate, at once come to an end. For various 
reasons he was given a further day of grace. 
Deprived of a large part of his territory including 
" the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories/' he was 
allowed to continue the nominal ruler of South 
Gondwana under the eye of the British Resident. 
When, however, this leniency was made an excuse 
for still further intrigues with the Peshwa, and it 
was discovered that he was fomenting a rising 
amongst the Gonds, he was arrested and sent 
away to another part of India. On his way to 
his place of " retirement " he managed, however, 
to effect his escape in the imiform of a sepoy, 
whom he had bribed heavily, and after a good 
deal of further ineffectual scheming reached 
Rajputana, where he died some years after in 
comparative obscurity. 

After Appa Sahib's final deposition, a grandson 
of Raghuji II, though still but a child, was recog- 
nised as Rajah, under the title of Raghuji III, 
and Baka Bai, a widow of Raghuji II, was appoin- 
ted R^ent. Her duties seemed to have been more 
those of a governess than a governor ; as the 
affairs of the State were left entirely in the hands 
of Sir R. Jenkins, and a body of our officials 
appointed by him. Under his administration and 
that of his successor, the Honourable R. Cavendish, 
the country again became quiet and prosperous, 
trade increased, and the people were happy and 
contented. 

Some years later when the young Rajah had 

86 



NAGPUR 

attained his majority^ the administration of the 
country was again placed in Maratha hands^ 
though still under the intimate supervision of the 
Resident. This condition of things lasted until 
the year 1853, when on the death of Raghuji III, 
without issue, the administration of the whole of 
the Bhonsla kingdom was taken over by the 
British Government. 

So passed away the rule of the Marathas from 
Gondwana, and when it passed but a few regretted 
it. Its rulers had at their best been little more 
than soldiers of fortune. Few, if any, had been 
wise, or considerate of the welfare of their people. 
At times, through their selfishness, greed, and 
incompetency, the lot of the conunon people had 
been reduced to a state of abject misery and 
poverty. Life had beai painfully insecure, and 
trade impossible. And when it became known 
that for the future the British were to administer 
the coimtry, few were ready to oppose the new 
government. For the common people had already 
tasted something of the benefits of British rule, 
during the minority of their last Rajah, and 
knew by experience that under it they would find 
freedom, justice, and toleraticm. 



87 



CHAPTER X 

A PLEA FOR THE OLD JOHN COMPANY 

There are few achievements in human history of 
which a nation may be more justly proud, tiian 
the estabUshment of British rule in India. Little 
did our pleasure-loving monarch Charles II 
reahse, as he signed the Charter of the East India 
Company more than two and a half centuries ago, 
that he was taking part in the first act of estab- 
Ushing an Empire in the East. Not that ideas 
of ruling India troubled the minds of the Company 
in those early days. Their vessels went off to the 
East on their long and weary voyages with one 
object alone— trade. Gradually, however, as trade 
grew, factories had to be estabUshed on the 
eastern and western coasts of India, and on the 
banks of some of her larger rivers ; and with the 
estabUshment of these factories came the necessity 
of keeping order around them, and protecting 
them from attack. 

Perilous days were those for the early settlers, 
with Maratha and Moslem often suspicious, some- 
times actively hostile. But all the time the trade 
went on expanding, and the Company's sphere of 
influence went deeper and deeper into the heart 
of the Peninsula, until the East India Company 
found itself master of great tracts of country. 

88 



A PLEA FOR THE OLD JOHN COMPANY 

Then^ though still but a company^ it was faced 
by quite imperial tasks. 

A Civil Service was needed to administer its 
territories, and an army to defend them ; and 
HaUeybuiy and Addiscombe in due time came 
into being, for the purpose of training men for 
their civil and milits^ duties. The future rulers 
and generals of India, still mere boys, went forth 
to their life's work in the East, some of them to 
win reputations which will never die, some of them 
to find early graves. 

It is indeed a strange story, the evolution of a 
trading company into an empire, and a great 
English historian has much to justify him in his 
rather quaint saying that '' England stumbled 
into Empire." 

Many hard and untrue things have been said 
of the old East India Company and its rule. 

Doubtless there were Englishmen in India 
during its period who feuled to uphold the high 
standard of British uprightness, justice, and mercy. 
With some of the most daring, as well as the most 
gifted, of her sons in the East, England was not 
always pleased; and while criticising, and even 
punishing them for their faults, strangely forgot 
the great services they had rendered. 

But while we fully admit this, we must in all 
fairness add that there is no one page in the long 
history of England in which the names of so 
many great and noble characters can be found as 
in that which describes our English rule in India. 

SB 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Where can one find names which speak more 
eloquently of Christian chivalry, of love of truth 
and righteousness, of hatred of oppression, of 
wisdom, firmness, and dauntless courage, than 
those of John and Henry Lawrence, Bartle Frere, 
Auckland Colvin, Montgomery, Herbert Edwardes, 
Donald McCleod, Outram, Havelock, John 
Nicholson^ and Lord Roberts, all of them servants 
of this old East India Company ^ 

As to-day we contemplate the many evidences 
of our mild and beneficial rule in India, with 
peace and prosperity within its borders from the 
Himalayas to Cape Comorin, it is hard to realise 
what Old India was like, when our race first came 
into contact with it. Sir Mortimer Durand has 
given a description of it which for accuracy and 
breadth of view can hardly be excelled. He 
writes — 

'' When the East India Company entered upon 
its rise to Imperial domination, India, parcelled 
out among numerous chiefs, largely soldiers of 
fortune, had for generations been one vast war 
field, over which armies, aggregating perhaps 
2,000,000 of men, many of tibem foreign free- 
lances, marched and fought, and ravaged. The 
sufferings of the people under such conditions need 
not be described. The Company rescued India 
from this state of chronic warfare and devastation, 
and gave to the Indian masses not only protection 
and peace, but the most beneficent rule they had 
ever known. Fitzjames Stephen, an EngUsh 
Judge, writing of the early days of the Company, 

90 



A PLEA FOR THE OLD JOHN COMPANY 

has said that the whole Indian enterprise was ' not 
a tyrannical and detestable ' one, but * the 
greatest of English, one might almost say of 
numan, enterprises/ There are no facts in history 
more clearly demonstrable than the facts that the 
Company rose to Imperial dominion with the 
goodwill and active help of vast numbers of 
Indians ; and that when the Bengal army broke 
into revolt, as too powerful armies have done 
before, the Company s dominion was upheld, as 
it had been established, by the goodwill and active 
help of vast numbers of Indians. The districts 
which the revolt threw into anarchy, mainly dis- 
tricts in which the Bengal army was recruited, 
did not comprise a tenth part of India ; not one 
of the great ruling chiefs joined the rebels ; the 
smaller armies of Bombay and Madras remained 
faithful; and many thousands of Indians from 
the Bengal Presidency itself, enlisting of their own 
free will under the British Flag, fought with the 
British troops against the mutineers. Of the 
force which stormed Delhi not one-half, hardly 
more than a third, were white men. And so it 
was elsewhere. Then, as now, India was on our 
side, and the Mutiny was crushed. Since then 
the Crown has developed the work of the Company, 
ruling, as the Company rules, for the good of the 
people." 

And, indeed, we may go further than Sir 
Mortimer Durand, and paint in even darker 
colours the moral and social misery of the people 
of those days. Sati* (the inmiolation of widows 
on the funeral pyre of their deceased husbands), 

^ See Rambles and Recottedions, by Sir William Sleeman. 

91 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

infanticide, human sacrifices to propitiate hostile 
gods and demons, self-inflicted tortures of various 
kinds, and frequent witch-murder, were wide- 
spread customs, rooted deeply in the minds of 
the people, and practised with the full approval 
of the conscience of the community. 

Nor can it, I fear, be said that the spirit and 
convictions, which justified some of these cruel 
and unnatural practices, have entirely passed 
away. Not long ago, when visiting a remote 
State in Rajputana, I was taken to see the ceno- 
taphs of the ancestors of its present RuUng Chief. 
The monuments were themselves richly carved 
and impressive. One of them stood over a place 
where fifty royal wives and mistresses had been 
burnt to death on the occasion of their lord's 
" burning " ; and another marked the spot where 
eighty of these helpless women had perished under 
similar circumstances. It certainly seemed hor- 
ribly cruel and revolting, and I expressed my 
feeling very plainly to my companion, the State 
Pandit, who was showing me round. Judge of 
my surprise at hearing his reply, uttered most 
courteously and quietly, "You English do not 
understand love." 

Perhaps the best answer to those who speak ill 
of our rule in India is to bid them come and see it 
with their own eyes. Many distinguished travel- 
lers and statesmen from various European coun- 
tries have done so in recent years, and the burden 
of their criticism has generally resembled that of 

92 



A PLEA FOR THE OLD JOHN COMPANY 

Professor Garbe, a well-known German writer, 
who writes of the misfortunes that would befell 
India if to-day the beneficent and just rule 
of the English Government were to come to 
an end. 

The first beginnings of British rule in Gondwana 
were not made till 1817, when, as we have seen, 
Appa Sahib, the Bhonsla ruler of Nagpur, as a 
punishment for his treachery, was deprived of 
the northern portion of his kingdom, that portion 
which corresponded roughly with the old Gond 
kingdom of Garha-Mandla. 

Of the deplorable condition to which this terri- 
tory was then reduced, we have a vivid picture 
from the pen of Sir Charles Grant, who at a later 
period of his service officiated as Chief Commis- 
sioner of the Central Provinces. Writing as he 
did, nearly two generations ago, with an intimate 
acquaintance of that part of Gondwana, we can 
the better realise what our just and tolerant 
administration has meant to the people in this 
part of India — 

" This period (from 1798-1817), unfortunately 
for Jubbulpore, coincided with the worst period of 
Bhonsla administration. The Bhonsla govern- 
ment at this time had become arbitrary in its 
measiu'es and corrupt in all its departments. 
All revenue reports of those times teem with 
accoimts of the cruel, but often ingenious, pro- 
cesses 1^ which Maratha collectors slowly bled 

98 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

the people. Villages were put up to the highest 
bidder^ but even the purchaser was lucky if he 
got to the end of the year safe. After passing 
with alternating hope and fear the rainy season^ 
and watching his crops safe through the caprices 
of the elements, some turn in the tide of war, or 
an unexpected robber-raid, might destroy all the 
fruits of the toil and expenditiu'e of months. If 
the crops thus sown in sorrow, and tended in fear, 
came to maturity, there were fresh trials to en- 
counter. Sometimes the lease taken at the begin- 
ning of the year, and carried through with so 
much difl&cuity and anxiety, was unceremoni- 
ously set aside in favour of a higher bidder, and 
the unfortunate lessee saw the harvest, on which 
he had staked his all, go to enrich some private 
enemy or clever speculator. Sometimes the 
village would be made over by the authorities to 
troops in arrears to pay themselves, no questions, 
of course, being asked. Sometimes the crop was 
seized directly by the government officials, 
without any pretence or form of reason. Taught 
by experience, the cultivators assumed the appear- 
ance of poverty, concealed their stock, and hung 
back from taking farms. But they were always 
worsted in the long run. Practically they had no 
choice except to cultivate, or to starve, and the 
assignee soon found out, by means of his spies, 
who were in the best position to take the leases. 
On these persons dresses and titles were liberally 
bestowed, and solemn engagements entered into, 
at a very moderate rate of rent, which engage- 
ments were most assuredly violated at the time 
of harvest, when the whole produce was at the 
mercy of the ' Jagirdar.' Thus the Maratha 
rulers proceeded from year to year, flattering the 

94 



A PLEA FOR THE OLD JOHN COMPANY 

vanity of the * malguzars * with dresses, titles, 
and other distinctions^ and feeding their hopes 
with solemn promises^ till all their capital was 
exhausted. 

" There was a Uttle more difl&culty in tapping 
the wealth of bankers and others, whose substance 
was stored in a form less accessible and prominent 
than standing crops, or flocks and herds. Even 
in those times it was not for everyone to take the 
royal road, hit upon by Rashuji III, of going 
direct to the coveted strong Doxes by means of 
burglary. So the notable device was discovered 
of establishing * adultery' courts, furnished with 
guards, fetters, stocks, and staff of witnesses. When 
good information was obtained of the existence 
of a hoard of money, the unfortimate possessor 
was at once charged with adultery, and found 
guilty ; and if the disgrace of a crime, which was' 
field to reflect on the whole family of the accused, 
was not sufficient to bring him to reason, he 
was chained in the stocks till he agreed to pay 
ransom/' 

Perhaps when we read the following passage 
in this interesting report we shall the more fully 
realise the l^acy of woe bequeathed by Marathas 
to the early British Administration-^ 

"The Provisional Government appointed at 
Jubbulpore to carry on the administration of the 
newly-annexed Nerbudda country (1817) was 
called upon by its officials to decide among other 
questions whether ' widows should still be sold for 
the benefit of the State/ whether one-fourth of the 
proceeds of all house sales should continue to be 

95 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

into the treasury, and whether 'persons 
selling their daughters ' diould not still be taxed 
one-fourth of the price realised." 

At a meeting of the same Provisional Govern- 
ment there is an entry ordering the release of a 
woman named Pursia, '' who had been sold by 
auction a few days before far seventeen rupees^ 
" The taxes levied in different places varied with 
the idiosyncracies of the government, or of the 
individual tax-collector ; but among them it may 
be noticed that people were mulcted for having 
houses to live in, or if they had no house, for their 
temporary sheds or huts ; if they ate grain, their 
food was taxed at every stage in its progress 
through the country. If they ate meat, they 
paid duty on it through their butchers. When 
they married they paid for beating drums, or 
putting up marquees. If they rejoiced at the set 
Hindu festivals, they paid again; at the Holi, 
for instance, on the red powder which they threw 
at each other, at the Pola, on the ornaments which 
they tied to the horns of their cattle. In short, 
a poor man could not shelter himself, or clothe 
himself, or earn his bread, or eat it, or marry, or 
rejoice, or even ask his gods for better weather, 
without contributing separately on each individual 
act to the necessities of the State.'' 

Nor were the sufferings of the imfortunate 
people confined to the ill-treatment of their 
Maratha rulers, for the whole of Northern 

96 



A PLEA FOR THE OLD JOHN COMPANY 

Gondwana was at that period overran by wander- 
ing bands of robbers called " Pindaris/* who, from 
thdr standing camps in Nerbudda valley, poured 
forth periodically carrying fire and sword. There 
is nothing in history more moving than the pic- 
tures of utter desolation which these human 
locusts left in their track. 

Their plan of action is thus described by 
Malcolm — * 

"The Pindaris were neither encumbered by 
tents, nor baggage ; each horseman carried a few 
cakes of bread for his own subsistence, and some 
feeds of grain for his horse. The party, which 
usually consisted of two or three thousand good 
horses, with a proportion of mounted followers, 
advanced at the rapid rate of forty or fifty miles 
a day, neitiier turning to the right nor left till they 
arrived at their place of destination. They then 
divided and made a sweep of all the cattle and 
property they could find ; committing at the same 
time the most horrid atrocities, and destroying 
what they could not carry awav. They trusted 
to the secrecy and suddenness of the irruption for 
avoiding those who guarded the frontiers of the 
countries they invaded, and before a force could 
be brought against them they were on their return 
journey. Their chief strength lay in their being 
intangible. If pursued they made marches of 
extraordinary length, sometimes upwards of axty 
miles, by roads sdmost impracticable for regular 
troops. If overtaken, they dispersed, and re- 
assembled at an appointed rendezvous. Their 

^ History of Cmiral IfUHa. 

97 

^-<S55I) 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

wealth, their booty, and their famiUes were scat- 
tered over a wide region, in which they found 
protection amid the mountains and in the fast- 
nesses belonging to themselves and to those with 
whom they were either openly or secretly con- 
nected ; but nowhere did they present any point 
of attack, and the defeat of a party, the destruc- 
tion of one of their cantonments, or the temporary 
occupation of some of their strongholds, produced 
no effect beyond the ruin of an individual free- 
booter, whose place was instantly supplied by 
another, generally of more desperate fortune and 
therefore more eager for enterprise. 

" But the ways of the Pindaris were not so very 
much worse than those of the more regularly- 
licensed plunderers, who called themselves revenue 
collectors. In Jubbulpore, in 1809, the maddened 
cultivators, exasperated by the exaction of a 
Maratha Subah, Narayan Roa, went so far as to 
call in the aid of the notorious Pindari leader. 
Amir Khan, preferring the crash of a sudden raid, 
with all its terrible accompaniments of fire and 
sword, to the slow torture of constant pressure, 
or perhaps hoping that in the general upset good 
men might chance to come uppermost. The 
landholders gained their object at first, as the 
arrival of the Pindari army so thoroughly fright- 
ened the Maratha governor that he quite forgot 
for the time to go on with his exactions; but 
before the plunderers left the coimtiy they had 
made themselves as much felt by their friends as 
by their foes, appropriating all they could seize, 
insulting the temples of the Hindus, defacing the 
images, and conunitting outrages and excesses 
such as will not be forgotten, or the horror excited 
by them be buried in oblivion.'* 

96 



A PLEA FOR THE OLD JOHN COMPANY 

And this story of woe has yet another page^ 
which recalls the fact that the rapacity of the 
Maratha rulers^ and the savage raids of the Pin- 
dariS) were not the only causes of the sorrows which 
were ever with the much a£9icted people of North 
Gondwana in the early days of the last century. 

No one can read Sir WiUiam Sleeman's chapter 
on "Thugs and Poisoners/' in his Rambles and 
RecoUecHonSy and soon forget the horrors he there 
describes of that highly elaborated system of 
" religious " murder, which spread over large 
tracts of Northern and Central India at that time. 
To this distinguished soldier and administrator, 
who spent many years in these newly-acquired 
districts, we owe to a large extent the suppression 
of the Thugs, those fiends in human shape, who, 
after dedicating their weapons to the goddess 
KaU, and worshipping the setting sun, set off 
calmly to the execution of their murderous deeds. 

'' Between 1826 and 1835, 1,562 prisoners were 
tried by Sir William Sleeman at Jubbulpore for 
the crime of Thuggee, of whom 1 ,404 were hanged, 
or transported for life. Some individuals con- 
fessed to over 200, and one confessed to over 719 
murders I *' 



99 



CHAPTER XI 

GONDWANA UNfiER fiRITISH RULE— EARLY 

DAYS 

When the Governor-General in Council had made 
his final decision to take over the administration 
of Northern Gondwana^ it was not at first clear 
as to how the newly-acquired territories should 
be dealt with. 

For a short time they were placed in the hands 
of a commissioner^ who worked under the Resident 
at Nagpur. 

Then, in the year 1820 they were formed into a 
" Division " with the title of " Saugor and Ner- 
budda Territories/' and were placed in the charge 
of an agent, who worked directly under the 
Governor-General. 

More than once during the succeeding years 
the "Saugor and Nerbudda Territories" were 
attached to the United Provinces (then called the 
North- West Provinces), only to pass back sooner 
or later into the hands of the Agent to the 
Governor-General at Jubbulpore. 

Finally, on the death of Raghuji III, when 
Maratha rule passed away from the southern part 
of Gondwana, a new British Province was created 
under the title of " the Central Provinces," and 
the whole of Gondwana was placed in the hands 
of a Chief Commissioner. 

100 



GONDWANA UNDER BRITISH RULE 

Tvnce during the years that lay between 1842 
and 1859 our fellow-countrymen in Gondwana 
passed through anxious times. Early in 1842 
their first trial came in what has since been called 
the Bundela rising. The rising was fortunately 
confined to the "Saugor and Nerbudda Terri- 
tories/' which border on those regions in Central 
India which are called Bundelkhand. The trouble 
arose^ strange to relate^ out of a sincere desire on 
our part to substitute improved civil courts of 
justice for the more primitive and imperfect 
system whidi had hitherto obtained in this part 
of the country. India is nothing if not conserva- 
tive, and it is never easy to introduce anything 
new^ even though it be a vast improvement on 
the old. 

Very different to the comparatively insignificant 
Bimdela rising of 1842 was the great Mutiny of 
1857. Few, perhaps, spend any time to-day in 
reading of those stormy days, when the fate of 
our Indian Empire hung in the balance, and when 
but for the strong administrators and fearless 
soldiers of the old East India Company, ''men 
who looked on tempests and whose hearts were 
never shaken," all traces of our rule in India might 
easily have been swept away. 

The Mutiny was, ciuious to relate, hardly felt 
in Nagpur and in the southern portion of the 
Central Provinces. For this much credit is due 
to Mr. EUis, the Deputy Commissioner of Nagpur, 
and to his brother o£Gicers. 

101 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Early in June it was known to them that 
secret meetings of a suspicious character were 
taking place every night in the native city, and 
that a general feeling of uneasiness was apparent 
in the Bazaar. Further enquiry made it clear 
that a number of troopers of the Bengal cavalry 
regiment, which then formed part of the garrison 
of Nagpur, were seriously disaffected. 

Then came the startling intelligence that 
13th June was the night planned by the mutineers 
for the rising, and that the ascent of a fire-balloon 
was to be the signal for its start. How the plot 
failed is an interesting story, which is worth 
the telling. 

We now know that this cavalry regiment hoped 
to induce the Madras regiment of infantry and 
a battery of artillery, then at Nagpur, to come 
over to their side. They had made certain over- 
tures to them, but things had not come to a head, 
when late in the afternoon of 13th June an un- 
expected order from the ofl&cer commanding the 
cavalry (acting in consultation with Mr. EUis), 
viz., that one squadron was to hold itself imme- 
diately ready to march to Seoni, roused their 
suspicions. 

The plans of mutineers, when disarranged, 
have a way of breaking down. Fancjdng ttiat 
their plans might be upset, the sowars sent a 
native officer to the Madras infantry lines to 
endeavour to arouse them. This man, however, 
was quietly arrested before he reached the infantry 

102 



GATEWAY AT GOXD 



GONDWANA UNDER BRITISH RULE 

lines^ though the mutineers failed to discover it 
till too late. 

Immediately after nightfall the Madras infantry 
and artillery were ordered by their officers to 
parade^ and the way in which they obeyed orders, 
speedily removed any lingering doubts as to their 
loyalty. While they fell in, the guns of Sitabaldi 
Fort were trained on the cavalry lines, and the 
loyal garrison silently awaited the arrival of the 
mutineers. 

Still unaware of what was happening, and 
although no fire balloon went up, the mutineers 
proceeded at ten o'clock to mount their horses 
for the attack. Judge of their surprise when, as 
they rode forward, they found themselves face 
to face with the loyal infantry and artillery, 
and learnt that the guns of Sitabaldi Fort 
were ready to mow them down at the word of 
conunand. 

Realising that resistance was useless, they sur- 
rendered, dismounted, and gave up their arms. 
After a careful enquiry, five of their ringleaders, 
native officers, and two leading Mohammedan 
merchants in the city, were put on their trial, 
found guilty, and hanged from the ramparts of 
the fort. 

It is interesting to know, that during this whole 
crisis, the aged Maratha princess, Baka Bai 
Bhonsla, remained absolutely loyal, and exercised 
considerable influence on our behalf in the 
Maratha districts. Had an important Maratha 

108 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

State^ such as Nagpur^ so soon after its annexa- 
tion, broken out into revolt, the effect on South 
India generally would have been most serious. 

In Jubbulpore and the northern part of the 
Central Provinces the mutiny came to a head 
more dowly, and in the long run proved far more 
troublesome. Weeks before its actual outbreak, 
it was evident to the Commissioner, Colonel 
Erskine (afterwards Earl of Mar and KeUie), that 
serious trouble was brewing. To the suggestion 
that it might be wiser to send all the English 
ladies away to a place of safety, and to withdraw 
himself with the other British officials to Nagpur, 
he gave an emphatic refusal. The Residency was 
put in a state of defence (for a time it was popu- 
larly known as "Fort Eirskine"), and all the 
English residents moved either inside its walls, 
or within its ''compound.'' During this period 
of suspense, we read, amongst other things, that 
the Simday church services were held in the 
Residency, though the chaplain, from time to 
time, felt it his duty to conduct services in the 
station church, when his congregations were, as 
might have been expected, not overwhehningly 
large I 

For a time, indeed, it seemed as if the impending 
storm would be averted. Then, however, came 
the discovery of a plot on the part of the pensioner, 
Gond Rajah, and his son, inciting the native 
infantry rq^iment to rise, and massacre all the 
English residents. After due trial, both father 

104 



GONDWANA UNDER BRITISH RULE 

and son were found guilty^ and on the night after 
their execution^ the regiment mutinied and 
marched out of Jubbulpore, without its British 
ofl&cers, with the avowed intention of joining the 
mutineers at Delhi. 

Their departure was the conunencement of a 
period of anarchy and confusion in all the country 
which lay to the north of Jubbulpore. More than 
one severe action^ and many minor ones^ were 
fought, and more than one British o£Gicer fell 
when leading his men, often against heavy odds. 
Amongst those who lost their Uves in those trou- 
blous times, was Major Jenkins, the Assistant 
Quarter-Master General of the Jubbulpore force, 
uncle of the last Chief Justice of Calcutta. His 
grave may still be seen in the old cemetery at 
Jubbulpore. Not until early in 1858, when 
General Sir Hugh Rose marched through Bundelk- 
hand, and defeated the rebels in several engage- 
ments, was the back of the Mutiny really broken 
in North Gondwana. Early in May, 1858, an 
anmesty was proclaimed, and on 1st August 
Colonel Erskine was able to announce that the 
Mutiny was at an end. 



M6 



CHAPTER XII 

GONDWANA UNDER BRITISH RULE 

It certainly requires some effort of imagination, 
as one moves about Gondwana to-day, to picture 
what the imhappy Gondwana of Maratha days 
must have resembled. For much has been accom- 
plished in the two generations which have jpassed 
since the Government of India, realising the 
isolated position of Gondwana, and the futility of 
connecting it with their older Provinces, made 
their wis^ decision and created the new British 
Province, henceforth to be called the Central 
Provinces, under the control of a Chief 
Commissioner. 

Not a Uttle of this rapid development is un- 
questionably due to the ability of the men who 
have held that office. As one looks down the roll 
of Chief Commissioners who have administered 
the Central Provinces for longer or shorter periods 
since 1861 , one sees the names of some who have 
gained lasting reputations in Indian administra- 
tion. More than one of the most brilliant, how- 
ever, held this high office in the Central Provinces 
for too short a period to accomphsh all they 
wished to do, and won their reputations in other 
fields. 

Of those who have left a permanent mark on 
the Central Provinces, the name of the late Mr. 

106 



GONDWANA UNDER BRITISH RULE 

Richard Temple, afterwards Sir Richard Temple, 
the second on the roll of Chief Commissioners, 
must always stand out pre-eminent. Before our 
present excellent system of railways, and long 
before the days of motors, he traversed thousands 
of miles, generally on horseback, and over trackless 
jungles, to see things with his own eyes. Few of 
the needs of his great charge seem to have escaped 
his notice. Possessed of energy, which even the 
chmate of India did not sensibly diminish, he 
accompUshed great things during his nearly five 
years of office. 

During the earher period of his administration 
he organised two large exhibitions of art and 
industry at Nagpur and Jubbulpore, for the pur- 
pose of educating and stimulating the industrial 
and agricultural life of the people. His descrip- 
tion of these exhibitions recalls vividly the 
second Nagpur Exhibition, inaugurated nearly 
fifty years later by his successor Mr. Reginald 
Craddock. 

" To these great displays the natives of all 
classes, high and humble, flocked in tens of thou« 
sands. Before their wondering gaze were shown 
not only the products from distant parts of their 
own country, but also specimens of the manu- 
factures of Western lands. The ornamental work 
from Europe would, it was fondly, perhaps vainly, 
supposed, inform their minds with fresh ideas of 
the beautiful, while the machinery and imple- 
ments might give them an impression of powers 

107 



GONDWANA UNDER BRITISH RULE 



jrvoirs, some five, some even twenty miles 

circumference, worthy to be called artificial 

:es/' When we call to mind the fact that 

inly 96 per cent, of the people of India live 

the soil, and depend for the watering of their 

Ids on the annual " monsoon " rains, which are 

Iways uncertain, and sometimes fail them alto- 

ither, we can the better realise the supreme 

iportance of conserving and distributing water 

^er as wide an area as possible. By no one was 

le importance of irrigation more thoroughly 

tognised than by Sir Richard Temple, and it 

interesting to reflect that the, small beginnings 

his day have been carried on unceasingly 

'er since, so that at the present time con- 

ierable portions of the Central Provinces have 

to be entirdy dependent on a single 

's rainfall. 

|One piece of poUtical foresight on the part of 

Richard Temple, which has borne excellent 

it in Gondwana, is worthy of mention. A 

ited number of the leading Gond landlords in 

[uthem Gondwana, were raised to the portion 

Feudatory Chiefs, or petty Rajahs. Later on 

phief s CoU^e was opened for the education of 

iir sons at Raipur, and the happy contrast 

ween what we see of the younger chiefe, and 

lat we hear of their ancestors, justifies us in 

ping for steady improvanent in these small 

nd States. 

^or was Sir R. Temple forgetful, in spite of the 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

pressing needs of the great native population 
around him, of the interests of his own race, 
especially those of the poor Anglo-Indians, the 
" domiciled community " as they are now called. 
In his time, and with his help and sympathy, the 
Bishop Cotton school was opened at Nagpur, for 
boys and girls of this class, followed some years 
later by the Christ Church schools at Jubbulpore. 
The former school was opened shortly after 
Bishop Cotton's visit to Nagpur, and was called 
after him. He, in his earlier days, had been 
head master of Marlborough College, and during 
his ten years' Indian episcopate did much for the 
education of the Eurasian class in India. 

Nor can our Church in the Central Provinces 
quite forget what she owes to Sir Richard Temple. 
Convinced of the truth of Christianity, and recog- 
nising the importance of Christian conduct and 
example in the Uves of the ruling race, he made 
an enquiry into the spiritual condition of the 
scattered European and Eurasian communities 
in the new Province. Backed by his help and 
sympathy, small churches were built in many of 
oiu- smaU civil stations, partly by private effort, 
and partly by Government grant-in-aid, which 
have since been a source of comfort to many. 
During his time the parish church of Nagpur, 
which has recently been transformed by the late 
Mr. G. F. Bodley into All Saints' Cathedral, was 
completed. It is interesting to note that Bishop 
Cotton himself visited Nagpur for its Consecration, 

110 



GONDWANA UNDER BRITISH RULE 

and that the petition for its Consecration was read 
by Sir Richard Temple. 

During Sir Richard Temple's period of adminis- 
tration^ and under his direction^ diligent search 
was made in the Satpura Hill country for a suit- 
able hill-station for the Central Provinces. The 
honour of discovering Pachmarhi^ which was the 
hill-station eventually selected^ belongs to Captain 
Forsyth. It is interesting^ however, to note that 
one of those to whom the special duty of clearing 
the plateau of Pachmarhi of its undergrowth 
was entrusted, still lives on at an advanced age 
in Jubbulpore, the Rev. P. CuUen, M.D. In 
those days, as Civil Surgeon of Khandwa, Dr. 
CuUen was a well-known figure in the Central 
Provinces. In later years, after retiring as 
Surgeon-Colonel of the Indian Medical Service, 
he was ordained by the Bishop of Calcutta to 
assist in the work at Jubbulpore. 

It must be remembered that Nagpur, the head- 
quarters of the administration, lies in the plains 
coimtry to the south of the Satpura plateau, and 
has a rather imenviable notoriety for high tem- 
peratures in the hot weather. After a careful 
examination of various places, the beautiful little 
park-like plateau of Pachmarhi was eventually 
selected, a charming spot about 3,500 feet above 
sea-levd, surrounded by hills, several of which are 
nearly 1,000 feet higher than the plateau itself. 
For many years past this has been the summer 
resort for Europeans in the Central Provinces; 

111 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

and its giant canyons^ descending in some cases 
to a quite extraordinary depth into the bowels of 
the mountains^ as well as the magnificent clifis 
of its surrounding mountains^ make its scenery 
quite jmique.. 

It is not easy for the modem resident in the 
Central Provinces, who r^ards a journey to 
Bombay or Calcutta as a matter of no conse- 
quence, to realise that neither Jubbulpore nor 
Nagpur was connected by rail with either of these 
great Indian cities in the early days of the Central 
Provinces Administration. Not imtil 20th Feb- 
ruary, 1867, wa§ Nagpur connected with Bombay, 
and not until 6th March, 1870, was the line from 
Calcutta to Bombay, which passes through 
Jubbulpore, first opened. 

At the banquet given by the Great Indian 
Peninsula Company at Jubbulpore, when H.R.H. 
the Duke of Edinbuiigh, and the Earl of Mayo — 
then Viceroy — were present, the latter, in proposing 
the toast " Success and Prosperity " to the G.I.P. 
Railway, made the following remarks — 

" On this day the great distance of 1,070 mileg 
of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway ^stem has 
been opened to the pubUc ; Calcutta and Bombay 
are brought into close connection, and this great 
Peninsula is at last bridged by a railway 1,300 
Twles in length. When we look back to the 
history of this undertaking we must recollect the 
very great difficulties which attended its early 
progress. The thing is now comparatively easy, 

112 



WATERS MEET, PACHMARHI 



GONDWANA UNDER BRITISH RULE 

much more is known^ the organisation of labour 
is less difficult, and our able engineers have the 
light of experience and history to guide them. 
But in the early days of this undertaking far 
greater difficulties which no longer exist had to be 
encountered, and therefore we must make due 
allowance for what may perhaps seem a rather 
protracted period over which tiiese works have 
extended. During that time periods of great 
scarcity occurred; the Mutiny also occurred in 
the early history of this enterprise, and there have 
been several violent outbreaks of disease, and 
when we look back upon the whole history of this 
railway we may well wonder at the perseverance 
by which, in its earUer stages, the work was 
carried on." 

Great were the rejoicings, so Sir Richard 
Temple tells us in his Memoirs, in Nagpur and 
Jubbulpore, at these important events, "as the 
local residents rejoiced at being able to fly away 
for recreation or in quest of health when sick, 
the engineers were light-hearted at the remem- 
brance of anxieties dissipated and toils ended, 
and the Administration exhilarated by the 
thought of material resources augmented and 
opportunities enlarged/' 

After these important events in the railway 
world an additional scheme was contemplated for 
a line which should run from Nagpur eastwards, 
and " tap the surplus produce of the Chhattisgarh 
r^on, which was over-stocked with grain." Old 
residents in Nagpur still recall the days when the 

113 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Chhattisgarh State railway ran its metre-gauge 
line from Nagpur to Rajnandgaon. Later on, 
largely through the indomitable energy of Mr. T. 
Wynne, the Bengal-Nagpur Railway Company, 
making Nagpur their headquarters, acquired this 
line, transforming it into the broad-gauge system, 
and Unking it up with the East India Railway 
Company at Asansol. Of the further develop- 
ments of that progressive railway company, of 
their new route' into Calcutta via Khargpur, and 
of their widespread system of Ught railways in 
Gondwana, we need not speak. The beginnings 
of these things belong but to yesterday. 

If we have spoken at considerable length of 
Sir Richard Temple's work in the Central Pro- 
vinces, it is because it fell to his lot to be the 
pioneer British Administrator of Gondwana. 

While it is impossible to speak as freely of those 
who are still with us, as of those " who rest from 
their labours," and while most of Sir Richard 
Temple's successors have added something of 
greater or lesser importance to the foundations 
which he laid nearly two generations ago, some 
ref eraice may fairly be made to what the Central 
Provinces owes to its last Chief Conunissioner, 
Sir Reginald Craddock. 

Previous to his appointment the Province had 
suffered seriously from the fact that not a few of 
its Chief Commissioners had but little personal 
knowledge of this part of India, and had hardly 
entered on their new office when they were called 

114 



GONDWANA UNDER BRITISH RULE 

away to some higher appointment in the 
Government of India. 

With an intimate knowledge of the needs of 
the Province in which he had spent the whole 
of his service, Sir Reginald Craddock entered on 
his work as Chief Conrniissioner, and for five 
years administered the Province with marked 
ability. During this period a second Nagpur 
industrial exhibition was held, about fifty years 
after the exhibition organised by Sir Richard 
Temple. If it was followed, as is generally 
admitted, with more encouraging results, it was 
doubtless because the country was more ready 
for it. 

Concentrating a good deal of attention on 
Nagpur, which had been, hitherto, the least 
attractive headquarters' station in India, Sir 
Reginald Craddock practically created the new 
and handsome civil station. Nor was he forgetful 
of the large native city of Nagpur, with its popula- 
tion of 130,000 souls. "Ill-built and uninter- 
esting," was the only description which Sir 
Richard Temple could give of it, and he might well 
have added, extremely unhealthy. Under Sir 
R^inald Craddock's vigorous administration a 
further water-supply was provided, and the begin- 
ning of a sound system of city drainage was 
introduced. Old houses were pulled down, and 
new streets built, or planned. A new residential 
suburb for Indian gentry was created (now called 
Craddock Town), and last, but not least, the 

115 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

foundations were laid of an excellent Market Hall 
in cleanly surroimdings. 

Nor has the forward movement in Nagpw^ 
which he inaugurated^ in any sense weakened in 
the hands of his successor. Already Nagpur is 
preparing itself for a fine residential University; 
in which the Hislop Missionary College and the 
Morris College — o. Government college named 
after Sir John Morris, a former Chief Commis- 
sioner — will form constituent parts ; and a Medical 
School for the training of assistant doctors for 
the needs of the Central Provinces has recently 
been opened. 

A distinguished Norwegian writer, Professor 
Sten Konow, has written some interesting lines 
on the industrial development of India imder 
British rule. " It cannot be denied/' he 
writes, ** that the English in India have accom- 
plished a great deal. The administration of the 
country is excellent. The economic life of the 
coimtry has progressed so surprisingly that India 
now plays a very important rdle in the world 
traflftc." 

While the cotton mills of Bombay and Cawn- 
pore, " the Manchester of India,'' and the jute- 
mills of Bengal, are conspicuous features on the 
landscapes of these parts of India, it is not perhaps 
generally knovm that old Gondwana is already 
playing an ever-increasing part in the industrial 
life of the country. Ever since the American 
Civil War caused an extraordinary demand for 

116 



GONDWANA UNDER BRITISH RULE 

Indian cotton, the regions south of the Satpuras, 
in Berar and Nagpur, have been exporting 
enormous quantities of cotton to Japan and 
Europe. Probably there is no great stretch of 
country in all India which excels the black-cotton 
country of Berar in fertility. It is also interesting 
to note that while a good deal of the raw product, 
after passing through the ginning factories which 
are to be seen dotted all over that part of the 
country, is transported to other lands, much of it 
is being used in the manufacture of cotton goods 
in India itself. There is no sight in Nagpur more 
full of human interest than the Empress Cotton 
Mills, which employ over 7,000 Indian hands, and 
are imder the entire control of an enterprising 
firm of Parsees. 

To one who, Uke the writer, has spent some 
years of his life amid the collieries and blast 
furnaces of Durham, there is always a peculiar 
interest in visiting the coUieries and manganese 
mines of the Central Provinces. At Umaria, at 
picturesque Mohpani, at the Pench valley collieries, 
or at Ballarshah, in the Chanda District, one 
seems to be back again in the busy North of 
England. Nor are there any visits in my frequent 
journeyings to which I look forward more heartily 
than those which take me to the manganese mines 
of Bhandara, where, from time to time, in some 
mining engineer's bungalow, I am asked to hold 
Divine Service for those who are engaged in this 
important branch of industrial work. 

117 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Our aim has been but to give a general impres* 
sion of the progress and development of old 
Gondwana under British rule, and more than this 
we may not attempt. Gondwana has its own 
special needs, which are constantly before the 
minds of those who are responsible for its adminis- 
tration. If it is in some ways the most contented 
region in India^ it preserves this £den-Uke condition 
very probably because the majority of its people 
are still uneducated. How to enUghten its people 
and to keep them at the same time contented is 
a problem which the future has to solve. That 
there is a real need for improved agricultural 
methods is obvious, and much is being done by 
our Government Agricultural Department, not 
only in its admirable Agricultural College at 
Nagpur and on its few experimental farms, 
where various seeds and " crossings " are tested, 
but also by a widely-spread system of small 
" demonstration " farms, or holdings, dotted over 
various districts, where the villagers can see for 
themselves what superior ploughing and manuring 
with good seeds can produce in the way of croj)s. 
And yet, in spite of all this excellent work of 
government, it is obvious to those who really 
know the Indian ryot that extraordinary patience 
and tact are needed to overcome his besetting 
sins of fooUsh conservatism and lethargy. Gond- 
wana, too, like other parts of India, is beginning 
to develop its industrial life. How to attract 
a fair proportion of its educated youths away from 

118 



GONDWANA UNDER BRITISH RULE 

the fascinations of the Law Courts into the 
pursuits of an industrial life is a goal towards 
which our education may well aim. 

And last) but assuredly not leasts how to bring 
some kind of simple and useful education to the 
great masses of the village people, who are still 
quite illiterate, is another portion of the White 
Man's burden. Already amongst other such 
things a useful School of Handicrafts has been 
started by the Government in Nagpur for the 
purpose of teaching village boys the use of 
improved tools, and better and more modern 
methods of working. Forty youths, mostly the 
sons of village carpenters and blacksmiths, are at 
present passing through this course of instruction, 
and will return in due time to start life in their 
own villages, far better equipped than their 
fathers were before them. 

What we must hope is that the beginnings of 
better things which have been made in this and 
other parts of India, may be given time to grow 
and mature ; and that t aught by the failures of 
the past, we may be wiser in the future in under- 
standing the exact needs of our great Eastern 
Dependency. 



119 



CHAPTER XIII 

SOME STRANGE BELIEFS AND CUSTOMS IN 

GONDWANA 

India is certainly the home of strange beliefs and 
customs^ and nowhere are they found more 
abundantly than among her aborigines. Hidden 
away in remote jungles or in hilly tracts, these 
people live their lives in ignorance of the forward 
march of civilisation and still cling to many of 
their old superstitions. 

One influence has alone saiously affected the 
aborigines of Gondwana during the course of the 
centuries, and that clearly comes from the Hindus 
who dwell amongst them. On the other hand, it 
can hardly be doubted but that some of the least 
worthy dements in Hinduism have come into it 
from purely aboriginal sources. 

It is to be remembered that the aborigines of 
India number many millions, perhaps twenty, 
and amongst them are found marked varieties of 
race and culture. The almost naked Nagas, the 
Abors and Mishmis, who Uve in the hills which 
border on the Assam valley, and who are Mongols 
in origin, are in most respects no more advanced 
than some of the wildest races in Central Africa. 
They still practise head-hunting, whenever the 
opportunity presents itself. 

The Gond, however, has for long centuries put 

120 



STRANGE BELIEFS AND CUSTOMS 

away such savagery, and is, as a rule, a mild and 
gentle creature. Really brave, when following wild 
game in his own jungles, he is in the presence of 
strangers reserved and timid ; and it is only after 
considerable acquaintance and much questioning 
that one can discover what his real bdiefs are. 

To begin with his theology. One curious 
feature of a Gond's theology is to be found in the 
number of gods he recognises. It might be 
thought that such a question as the exact number 
of gods a person worships belongs merely to the 
reign of speculation, and can have but Uttle effect 
on practical Ufe ; but this is by no means the case 
with the Gond. On the number of gods he 
worships depends the special group or family to 
which he belongs ; and connected with this are 
the families into which he may marry. Worship- 
pers of seven gods may not marry into their own 
group, but must select partners from among the 
six-god, five-god, or four-god families. The 
Raj-Gonds, whose ancestors either held land under 
the old Gond kings, or were a sub-tribe connected 
with the ruling famiUes, are all six-god worship- 
pers. A Raj-Gond servant of mine tells me that 
to marry in his own group would be the same as 
marrying his own sister. 

Hislop, the well-known Scottish missionary, 
thought he had found traces of no less than 
fifteen gods amongst them — ^but later research 
tends to show that there are no more than seven 
in their Pantheon. 

121 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

The Gonds recognise one of these seven gods^ 
Bhera Pen^ sometimes called Maha-Deva^ as the 
creator of the world* He has no symbol or idol, 
but iron is sacred to him. As^ however^ he is a 
kindly being, who takes almost no interest in his 
creatures, he is seldom worshipped. The gods 
that the Gond has to reckon with, are those 
malignant spirits which are always on the look 
out to take o&ence and do him harm. These 
cruel, and often nameless spirits, who are ever 
ready to lay in wait for a man and bring 
evil upon him, must be propitiated at all 
cost. 

From this it is obvious that the main reUgious 
acts of the Gonds are inspired by fear. They are 
like children, who can count on no kind of help 
from their father, who, though not ill-natured, is 
unable or unwilling to assist them. Their one 
concern is to keep on good terms with their known 
and unknown spiritual enemies. 

Canon Wood mentions, however, a religious 
ceremony amongst the Gonds of the Chanda 
District, which seems to him to " embody a dim 
idea of a protecting god." " The tutelary deity 
of the six-god Gonds is symbolised by six spear- 
heads, one large and five small spear-heads, of 
the five-god Gonds by one large and four small 
spear-heads, and so on for the others. When the 
Gond desires the protection of his * House ' god, 
these are taken down from the tree where they 
are hung in a skin bag, are daubed with red paint 

122 



STRANGE BELIEFS AND CUSTOMS 

or bloody and goats, fowls, rice, and ' dam,' ^ are 
sacrificed to them, the ceremony ending, like all 
Gond ceremonies, with feasting, drinking, and a 
dance." 

In olden days human sacrifices were common in 
Gondwana, until put down by the firm hand of 
the British rule. At Deogarh, the capital of the 
Eastern Middle Kingdom, one is still shown " the 
chamber of horrors " where human sacrifices were 
offered by the king before going on an expedition. 
As late as 1842, when the Rajah of Bastar went 
on a long journey, twenty-five human victims 
were sacrificed at Dantewara temple to secure for 
him an undisturbed journey. 

Two places in old Gondwana were specially 
famous for a peculiar form of human sacrifice, 
which, for lack of a better word, may be described 
as " religious suicide." 

One of these places was a cliff on the side of the 
hill of Mahadeva, not far from the entrance to its 
well-known cave, and only two or three miles 
from Pachmarhi ; the other, called the Birkhila, 
or hero's step, was a cliif on the Island of Mand- 
hata, overlooking the Nerbudda, and not far from 
the Onkar temple of Shiva. Both places, be it 
observed, were closely connected with the worship 
of Shiva " the Destroyer." 

The persons who made this horrible sacrifice 
were, so Malcolm * tells us, generally of low caste, 

^ Country liquor distilled from the Mahua tree. 

* Malcolm's Memoirs of CefUral India, Vol. II, p. 210. 

123 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

and one of the leading motives by which they were 
actuated was the belief that they would be reborn 
as Rajahs in the next state of transmigration. In 
many cases they were the first-bom sons of 
women who had long been barren^ and who^ to 
remove 'what they deemed a curse, had vowed 
their child (if one was given them) to Onkar 
(Shiva) of Mandhata. 

Forsyth^ gives us such a vivid picture of one 
such sacrifice witnessed by an unnamed English 
officer in 1824, and written by him in the Nimar I 

records, that I feel compelled to give it, terrible 
though it was, in his exact words. The Island 
of Mandhata at that time was not in British 
territory, and so force could not be used to prevent 
this gruesome sacrifice. 

The writer, however, seems to have done all he 
could to dissuade the unfortunate creature from 
destroying himself, but unfortunately failed in 
his efforts. 

'* I took care to be present at an eariy hour at the 
representation of Bhairon,* a rough block of 
basalt smeared with red paint, before which he 
must necessarily present and prostrate himself, 
ere he mounted to the lofty pinnacle whence to 
spring on the idol. Ere long he arrived, preceded 
by rude music. He approached the amorphous 
idol with a light foot, while a wild pleasure marked 

^ Capt. Forsyth's Highlands of Central India, p. 181. 
* Bhairon and his spouse the goddess Kali are believed 
by the ignorant to feed on human flesh. 

124 



STRANGE BELIEFS AND CUSTOMS 

his countenance. As soon as this subsided, and 
repeatedly during the painful scene, I addressed 
myself to him, in the most urgent possible manner, 
to recede from his rash resolve, pledging myself 
to ensure him protection and a competence for 
his life. I had taken the precauticm to have a boat 
close at hand, which in five minutes would have 
transported us beyond the sight of the multitude. 
In vain I urged him. He now more resolutely 
replied that it was beyond human power to remove 
the sacrifice of the powerful Bhairon. So deep- 
rooted a delusion could only be siumounted by 
force ; and to exercise that I was unauthorised. 
While confronted with the idol, his delusion gained 
strength ; and the barbarous throng cheered with 
voice and hand, when by his motions he indicated 
a total and continued disregard of my persuasions 
to desist. He made his offering of cocoanuts, first 
breaking one ; and he emptied into a gourd pre- 
sented by the priestess his previous collection of 
pice and cowries. She now tendered to him some 
ardent spirit in the nutshell, first making her son 
drink some from his hand, to obviate all suspicion 
of its being drugged. A little was poured in 
Ubation on die idol. She hinted to him to deliver 
to her the silver rings he wore. In doing so he 
^ave a proof of singular collectedness. One of the 
Irst he took off he concealed in his mouth till he 
had presented to her all the rest, when, searching 
among the surrounding countenances, he pointed 
to a man to whom he ordered this ring to be given. 
It was a person who had accompanied him from 
Ujjain. An eagerness was now evinced by several 
to submit bracelets, and even betel-nuts, to his 
sacred touch. He composedly placed such in his 
mouth and returned them. The priestess at last 

125 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

presented him with a pan leaf ^ and he left the spot 
with a firm step, amidst the plaudit of the crowd. 
During the latter half of his ascent he was much 
concealed from view by shrubs. At length he 
appeared to the aching sight, and stood in a bold 
and erect posture upon the fatal eminence. Some 
short time he passed in agitated motions on the 
stone ledge, tossing now and then his arms aloft 
as if employed in invocation. At length he 
ceased ; and, in slow motions with both his hands, 
made farewell salutations to the assembled multi- 
tude. This done, he whirled down the cocoanut, 
mirror, knife, and lime, which he had continued 
to hold ; and stepping back was lost to view for 
a moment. The next second he burst upon our 
agonised sight in a most manful leap, descending 
feet foremost with terrific rapidity, tiU, in mid 
career, a projecting rock reversed his position, 
and caused a headlong fall. Instant death fol- 
lowed this descent of ninety feet, and terminated 
the existence of this youth, whose strength of faith 
and fortitude would have adorned the noblest 
cause." 

Some years ago a friend of mine who was then 
administering the Bastar State, was called upon 
to try an old Gond for sacrificial murder. The 
following facts emerged in the course of the trial. 
A dam had been built Jby the Gonds in a certain 
neighbourhood to hold up the water which fell 
during the rainy season. It was a matter of great 
importance that this dam should stand firm, as 
it affected the comfort and even the Uves of many. 
For two or three years, just as the tank was at 

las 



STRANGE BELIEFS AND CUSTOMS 

its fullest^ this dam always gave way at a certain 
place, and all the labour bestowed on it was 
thrown away. Then it was darkly hinted that 
an evil spirit was the cause of all their trouble, 
and that he could be propitiated by nothing less 
than a human sacrifice. 

Possessed of the idea that by this means alone 
could the dam be made to stand, the old Gond 
brooded for weeks. Then as he sat one day by the 
empty tank, an old hag, of over threescore years 
and ten, and in her dotage, staggered passed him. 
Surely the gods had sent him a victim, to whom 
life was no longer precious I . . . And so the 
deed was done, the sacrifice offered, and to add 
to the pathos of it all, the dam stood firm where 
ihe old woman's corpse lay hid. 

My friend had no option but to sentence the 
murderer to death, but he did so with deep regret. 
The Gond met his death quite bravely, convinced 
that he had rendered a real service to his village. 

A strange ceremony still takes place every year 
at Jagadalpur, the capital of Bastar State, during 
the Hindu Festival of Dasehra. The principal 
shrine in this wild country is a temple dedicated 
to the goddess Dantesvari, once known as Rakhta 
Danti, " the bloody-toothed," ^ another name for 
the fierce goddess Kali. This goddess was, so 
the people of Bastar believe, the household god- 
dess of the family of their present ruling chief, 

^ Epigraphia Indica, No. 30. Dantewara inscriptions by 
Rai Bahadur Hira Lai. B.A. 

127 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

when his Rajput ancestors ruled in Hastinapura 
and Waran^. When driven from the latter 
place by the Mohammedan invasion he fled into 
Bastar, and in response to his entreaties, this 
goddess promised to follow him, ordering him to 
advance as long as he heard " the tinkling of her 
anklets " behind him, and promising if he did so 
he would overcome all his miemies. 

As they crossed the confluence of the Sankini 
and Dankini rivers, the feet of the goddess sank 
deep in the sand, and hearing no sound the Rajah 
turned round. On this the goddess became angry 
and reproached him with his want of faith. After 
a time, however, she relented, and told him that 
he might proceed with the conquest of the country, 
but she, for her part, would remain where she 
was. At this spot her famous shrine now stands, 
at which, till comparatively recently, human 
sacrifices were offered. 

" Nothing is done," so Colonel Glasfurd writes 
of Bastar in 1862, "'no business undertaken, 
without consulting her ; not even will the Rajah 
or Diwan proceed on a pleasure party or hunting 
expedition without consulting 'Mai' (mother). 
Her advice is asked in matters of the most trivial 
nature ; flowers are placed on the head of the idol, 
and as they fall to the right or to the left, so is 
the reply interpreted as favourable or otherwise.** 

Once a year at the Festiyal of Dasehra the 
Ruling Chief of Bastar divests himself of all 
clothing, save a loin cloth dyed to resemble his 

128 



STRANGE BELIEFS AND CUSTOMS 

own skin^ and with a garland of flowers on his 
head^ mounts a large wooden car^ not altogether 
unlike the Jagannath Car at Puri. In this car, 
surrounded by some of the leading men of his 
capital, he is drawn through the streets of Jagadal- 
pur, while his subjects, principaUy Gonds, fall 
prostrate before him. He is regarded for the 
time being, so it is said, as a kind of incarnation 
of a god, a ''Hinduized version of the ancient 
Gond god Pharsa Pen," the spouse of the goddess 
Dantesvari. On such occasions in former days 
human beings threw themselves under the car 
as sacrifices, and even now young buffaloes and 
goats are frequently pushed under it. 

Witchcraft is still very prevalent in Gondwana, 
and is often responsible for much cruelty and 
occasionally even for murders. 

One such murder was described to me quite 
recently by the Deputy Commissioner of a district 
in whidi I was touring. A Gond village had been 
visited by severe sickness, men, women, and 
children had sickened and some had died ; there 
had been heavy mortality amongst the cattle. 
At length the village elders met, and after some 
discussion decided that there was a witch in the 
village. After examining all the women, an old 
woman was selected as being the cause of all the 
trouble. No one was ready to defend her, and 
she was seized, buried in ^e ground up to her 
arm-pits, and merdlessfy beaten till she died. 

Canon Wood mentions a curious custom amongst 

129 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

the Gonds in his district^ which recalls the Western 
custom of '* ducking the witch/' If a woman is 
suspected of being a witch, she is thrown into the 
nearest tank or pond. If she remains under 
the water, while a man shoots three arrows into 
the air, she is innocent, but if she comes to the 
surface before that she is proved to be a witch. 
Her two front teeth are then knocked out, her 
head shaved, and she is banished from the village. 

Sometimes, as one passes from one Gond village 
to another, one's attention is called to a quaint 
Uttle cart, hardly larger than a child's toy, which 
lies at the side of a jungle track. There it lies 
full of rubbishy offerings, and there it has been 
brought by the people of some village in a time 
of epidemic. Along with it the villagers trusted 
they were bringing the cruel denion who had been 
tormenting them. All that they asked of him, as 
they left him in his solitude, was that he would 
stay there, or even go to another village, but never 
return to them. 

In his little book on The Story of the Gond 
Mission, the Rev. J. Fryer mentions certain 
curious superstitions, connected with trees, 
amongst the Gonds in his district. These super- 
stitions are based on the widespread conviction 
amongst many of these simpler races, who are 
still in the animistic stage, that, ''whenever 
savages see motion, they imagine a spirit." A 
conrmion belief exists '' that some trees must not 
be struck at n^ht, for fear that the sleep of the 

190 



STRANGE BELIEFS AND CUSTOMS 

tree spirit may be disturbed ; that^ before climbing 
a tree one should pray for its pardon for the rough 
usage it is about to be subjected to ; that^ if a 
mango tree withers^ and then grows again^ the 
tree spirit was absent on pilgrimage/' 

One curious Gond custom seen all over Gond- 
wana in its wildest regions is the setting up of a 
clay image of a tiger to mark the place where a 
man has been slain by one of these void animals. 
The idea is that the image of the tiger called 
'' Waghoba " js indwelt by the soul of the dead 
man^ who^ in hatred of his slayer^ will act as a 
village guardian. 

The belief in "totems" is everywhere found 
amongst the Gcmds^ and many are the plants and 
animals which ajre regarded as ''sacred." The 
late Major Lucie Smithy a well-known authority 
in South Gondwana^ stated that each of the four 
well-known groups of Gonds had their own special 
" totem " — the four-god Gonds regarding the 
tortoise and crocodile as their totem; the five-god 
Gonds the iguana ; the six-god Gonds, the tiger ; 
and the seven-god Gonds, the porcupine. 

The position of women amongst the Gonds, as, 
indeed, amongst all the aborigines of India, is 
largely one of equality with the opposite sex, and 
where Hindu ideas have not penetrated, the woman 
is free to marry the man of her choice. Few 
marriages take place before the girl is full grown. 

Amongst the Maria Gonds of the Chanda 
district there is a '' bachelors " quarter in eveiy 

131 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

village^ where the young men are shut up at 
night I 

After a couple of Maria Gonds have been keeping 
company for a Uttle^ the village elders and parents 
step in^ and the betrothal is arranged. Shortly 
after this the bridegroom's party come and plant 
a spear in the court-yard of the bride's house. If 
the bride's party consent^ water is poured over the 
spear by the girl's father. Should he fail to do 
this^ it is regarded as a grievous insult, and he is 
fined heavily. 

The marriage ceremony is simplicity itself. A 
platform of cow-dung cakes is built, on which a 
blanket is spread. On this the young couple 
stand and exchange vows. The brid^room puts 
an iron ring on one of the bride's fingers, and the 
ceremony is over. The newly married couple 
spend their short honqonoon in a temporary hut 
previously prepared in the forest. 

In certain cases where the bridegroom is too 
poor to pay the price which is demanded by the 
father for his daughter, he is allowed to serve, like 
the Patriarch Jacob, for his wife. This service 
sometimes lasts for several years. 

Unlike the higher castes of Hindus the Gonds 
raise no objection to the marriage of widows. 
Such marriages are attended with a curious 
practice in one part of Gondwana. The couple 
stand under the eaves of the brid^oom's hut 
with an upright spear between them. Turmeric 
mixed with oil is poured over the brid^;room's 

132 



STRANGE BELIEFS AND CUSTOMS 

head^ and on the spear-head^ and the brid^oom 
ties a string of beads around the bride's neck. 
After this simple ceremony he conducts her as 
his wife into his hut. 

In some cases the Gonds buiy their dead^ and 
in some cases, where Hindu influence is strong, 
they bum them. The burial ground or burning 
place is generally to the east of the village. Their 
dead are sometimes buried with their feet towards 
the north ; the explanation of this practice being 
a tradition that their home was once in the 
north. 

The belief in transmigration is now growing 
amongst the Gonds in many places. One custom 
in connection with it is decidedly interesting. 
When a Gondjs dying he is removed from his 
simple cord*bed and laid on the ground. Under 
his head is placed a small heap of grain. , After 
his death, when the body is removed, an inverted 
basket is placed over this heap of grain. On the 
following day the village elders examine it, and 
the wise amongst them beUeve that they can 
detect the footprints of the animal into which the 
soul of the deceased has entered. 

Canon Wood mentions a practice in connection 
with the dead which is worthy of a place in our 
record of some of the strange customs of 
Gondwana. 

When the body of the dead has been carried to 
its last resting-place, the mourners, still bearing 
the corpse on their shoulders, face west. In 

183 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

front of them^ ten paces away^ are placed three 
" yen *' leaves in a little line, about a yard apart. 
The first leaf is for the supreme god, the second 
for disembodied spirits, and the tUrd for witches. 
The spirit of the departed is then called upon to 
disclose the cause of his death. The bearers, 
impelled by the spirit of the dead man, move 
forward to the leaves. If they stop at the first 
leaf, the dead man was recalled by the supreme 
spirit, and died a natural death. If they stop at 
the second leaf, he was slain by a malign spirit. 
If they stop at the third leaf, the cause of his 
death was witchcraft. In this case the spirit of 
the dead is invoked to reveal the sorcerer, who, 
if in the crowd, is at once seized and put on his 
or her trial. 

It is a strange and pathetic fact that spirits of 
the dead are generally r^arded more as objects 
of fear than as objects of love and veneration. 
Especially are those dreaded who have died violent 
or unnatural deaths. The spirit of the woman 
who has died in child-birth or of the man who has 
been slain by a wild beast, are oft^i r^arded as 
specially malignant and dangerous. 

Mr. Fiyer mentions how, in his district, the 
spirit of a man slain by a tiger was propitiated for 
ten or twelve days after his death. The chief aim 
of the propitiatory rites seems to have been to 
bring the spirit away from the tiger to its old home. 
A thread was tied to a beam, and a copper ring 
was attached to it by twisting a thread round it 

134 



STRANGE BELIEFS AND CUSTOMS 

without a knot. Below was placed a pot full of 
water. Songs were sung, and watch was kept by 
day and by night, until the ring at last fell into 
the water, thereby announcing that the spirit had 
escaped from his captor, and had returned to his 
family. 



135 



CHAPTER XIV 

' A FEW WORDS ON MISSION WORK IN 

GONDWANA 

We have endeavoured to give some kind of 
picture of Gondwana in the more primitive days 
of its old Gond rulers. We have seen it in its 
unhappiness and unrest^ and under the uncertain 
and oft-times rapacious grasp of Maratha rule. 
We see it to-day enjoying peace and increasing 
prosperity^ under the mild and just rule of Great 
Britain. If we have dwelt a Uttle on the work 
of some of our leading administrators who have 
helped to bring in this new and better order of 
things^ it is but natural that we should make some 
reference to those high-souled men and women, 
who have striven to establish Christ's Kingdom in 
these r^ons. 

The missionary problems in the Central Provinces 
are in some respects imlike those which obtain 
in most other parts of India. The Mohammedan 
population is, with the excq>tion of Berar, neither 
large nor influential, the large Hindu population 
is in many parts still largely illiterate, and we have 
well over two million aboriginal Gonds, not to 
speak of other tribes of aborigines, Kols, Kurkus, 
and Merias. 

One or two of the missionary bodies at work in 
Gondwana have been working for more than two 

136 



MISSION WORK IN GONDWANA 

generations^ others have only recently entered 
this part of the mission field. 

Of those who have been at work in the southern 
part of Gondwana from the days when Bhonslas 
reigned in Nagpur^ the United Free Church of 
Scotland clearly takes the most prominent place. 
Ever since the days when Stephen Hislop^ that 
many-sided missionary^ laboured indefatigably in 
this part of India^ the United Free Church of 
Scotland has sent out a succession of able men and 
devoted women to carry on the work so well 
started by its pioneer missionaries. No one who 
lives in Nagpur can fail to observe the important 
place which this mission fills in the Uf e of the large 
native city and the surrounding country. Year 
after year^ for more than a generation past^ its 
University Coflege, appropriately named after 
Hislop^ its most distinguished missionary^ has 
been sending out numbers of highly-educated 
Indian youths^ to fill various offices in our pubUc 
life. Nor has any medical mission in all India 
done more valuable work than the medical branch 
of this mission^ with its excellent women's hospital 
and its admirable staff of lady doctors and nurses. 

Nor can anyone who hves in Nagpur be blind 
to the great devotion of the large body of Roman 
CathoUc priests and sisters^ who are working under 
their own Bishop^ many of them connected with 
the mission of St. Francis de Sales. 

And if Scotland and France have sent many 
devoted sons and daughters to missionary work 

137 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

in Gondwana, many a small mission station 
dotted about in the beautiful Satpura country 
speaks no less doquendy of the devotion of the 
Scandinavian Church of Sweden. 

Nor^ too^ does Europe alone share all the burden 
of missionary enterprise in this part of India, for 
to-day with their headquarters at Jubbulpore, 
both the American Methodist Episcopal Church 
and the American Baptist Society are throwing 
out branches of their work, with characteristic 
energy, all over this large area. 

While it is obviously impossible in the limits of 
one short chapter to enter fully even into the work 
of those missions with which the writer is per- 
sonally connected, there are some facts connected 
with our Churdi Missionary Society's work 
amongst the Gonds, which seem to me to fit in 
admirably with the general purpose of our story, 
and to throw interesting light on some aspects of 
missionary effort. 

Few, however doubtful or unsympathetic as 
to missionary work amongst the highly educated 
Hindus or Mohanunedans, will ever raise any 
opposition to the Church's endeavour to evangeUse 
the devil^worshipping aborigines. The late Sir 
Charles Elliott, when Lieutenant-Governor of 
Bengal, speaking of missionary work in India, 
dwelt especially on the importance of work 
amongst the aborigines, and added that there was 
no sphere in which the great truths of Christianity, 
more especially the Fatherhood of God, seemed 

13S 



MISSION WORK IN GONDWANA 

to find a more congenial soil than amongst those 
spiritually d^raded devil-worshippers. I can my- 
self recall a conversation I had years ago with a 
Mohammedan gentleman of Delhi; and how^ 
after describing our missionary labours amongst 
the aborigines of Chhota Nagpur^ he stated how 
willingly he would assist in a work of teaching 
them about the true God I 

Cmiously enough the first Christian mission to 
the Gonds was started^ and largely supported, by 
one who, in after years, became a distinguished 
Indian administrator, and who finished his career 
as Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab. 

In the year 1831 Mr. Donald McLeod was 
appointed to the Department for the suppres- 
sion of Thuggee under the superintendence of 
Colonel W. Sleentian, and was stationed at Saugor. 
Shortly afterwards he was transferred to Seoni as 
Deputy Conunissioner, where he remained for 
several years. During this time he formed the 
deepest affection for this beautiful Satpura dis- 
trict and for the simple-minded Gonds. So 
strongly did this fancy grow, that at one time* he 
even wished to spend the remainder of his career 
among the Gonds, and declined several better 
appointments in other parts of the country. He 
writes from Seoni in the following strain — 

'' I look upon my lot as fixed in this country, a 
land of wondrous interest, albeit at present in the 
darkness of night.'' 

lae 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

A few years later^ in 1840, Mr. McLeod was 
appointed to Jubbulpore as Deputy Commissioner. 
It was then that he carried out his long-conceived 
plan of commencing a Christian mission among 
the Gonds. " He had long felt/* so his biographer 
tells us, "that the simple habits of this primitive 
race afforded an admirable field for Christian efEort, 
and he had for some time past endeavoured to 
enlist the sympathy and co-operation of Christian 
people at Calcutta and elsewhere, in his cherished 
project. He had written a long and interesting 
article on this subject in the Calcutta Christian 
Observer, in which he endeavoured to show that 
the best plan was to start an agricultural mission 
settlement amongst them." 

As no Enghsh Missionary Society was willing 
to take up this idea, he acted upon it himself, and 
apphed to Pastor Gossner, of Berlin, who sent 
out to him a little band of German artisans and 
husbandmen (a carpenter, a schoolmaster, and 
an apothecary were amongst the number) to 
work among the Gonds. They were placed under 
the superintendence of the Rev. Alois Loesch, 
a Lutheran Minister, who had previously worked 
in South India. 

The missionary band arrived at Jubbulpore in 
1841, and shortly afterwards proceeded to the 
Satpura Highlands, making their central station 
at tilie village of Karanjia, in the Mandla district, 
about fourteen miles from the source of the Ner- 
budda at Amarkantak. There they Uved in a 

140 



MISSION WORK IN GONDWANA 

simple fashion, building their bungalow with their 
own hands. 

Shortly after their arrival at Karanjia, Mr. 
McLeod was able to pay them a visit. He was 
delighted at what appeared to be the happy 
commencement of fetvourable mission work 
amongst the Gonds. 

We have a few interesting lines from the pen of 
the leader of this missionary enterprise, the 
Rev. A. Loesch, which were written at this 
period— 

** Karanjia is one of the finest places I have seen 
in India. It is sixteen miles to the west of 
Amarkantak, and situated on the road to that 
place ; it is often visited by hosts of fakirs and 
ghosains, * who extort the last coin from the poor 
ignorant Gonds, whom we shall no longer suffer 
to be maltreated by that idle and wicked set of 
people. The chmate is almost European, the soil 
very fertile and the water delicious." 

The first few months had passed, and the sky 
seemed unclouded, when there fell on this small 
missionary band a calamity as sudden as it was 
terrible. Early in the rains an epidemic of 
cholera swept over this neighbourhood, and within 
a few weeks four of the mission band were dead, 
and a fifth lay between Ufe and death. The 
doctor was unfortunately the first to die, and this 
fact may have been partly responsible for the 

^ Religious mendicants. 

141 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

death of the others. One of the survivors lost 
his reason, and died not long afterwards, the other 
joined Stephen Hislop in Nagpur and died three 
years later. Within a few months of its starting, 
the mission had ceased to exist. 

In the winter of 1903, I paid my first visit to 
the Mandla district, to visit our Church Missionary 
Society's mission stations. On my way to Amar- 
kantak I determined to visit Karanjia, the sc^ie 
of this tragedy. On arriving at the village my 
companions and I found the grave of these four 
German missionaries in a deplorable state. The 
stone cross which had stood at the head had been 
maliciously broken by a Mohammedan fanatic. 
This mutilated grave alone remained to mark 
where these good men had Uved and died. 

At my suggestion my companion, the Rev. 
H. Molony, now Bishop of Chehkiang in China, 
wrote a short pamphlet called A Forgotten Tragedy, 
describing the death of these devoted m^i. Later 
on we took steps to have the grave repaired, when 
we placed a solid iron Maltese cross horizontally 
on the slab which covers the grave. On eadi 
arm of the cross is inscribed the name of one 
of the four departed missionaries — the Rev. 
Alois Loesch, JuUus Schleisner, Karl Gatzky, and 
Heinrich Gossner. Underneath are written in the 
Hindi language the beautiful words, '' Blessed are 
the dead which die in the Lord.'' 

Such was the hard fate which befell Mr. McLeod's 
endeavours to establish a mission amongst the 

142 



MISSION WORK IN GONDWANA 

Gonds. That it should, have ended with such 
tragic suddenness is all the more mysterious when 
one reflects on the remarkable results achieved 
by Pastor Gossner's mission in Chhota Nagpur^ a 
mission which was established a few years later. 

Within a year or two of this tragedy, Mr. 
McLeod was transferred to Benares, and later on 
to the Punjab, where in due course he became 
Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab. How highly 
the Sikhs of the Punjab esteemed his noble and 
devout character may be seen in our illustration, 
which represents him, at a later stage of his 
career, being worshipped by an adoring body of 
Sikhs. 

After Mr. McLeod's departure nothing was done 
to evangelise the Gonds for some years. Ten 
years later, another civilian, Mr. Mosley Smith, 
then Sessions Judge of Jubbulpore, in consultation 
with Mr. Dawson, the Chaplain of Jubbulpore, 
obtained from the Church Missionary Society the 
funds necessary to support a missionary sent out 
by Pastor Gossner. The name of this missionary 
was the Rev. J. W. Rebsch. Later on the 
Rev. £. C. Stuart (afttfwards the Bishop of 
Waiapu in New Zealand) was for a time stationed 
by the Church Missionary Society in Jubbulpore, 
and did some work amongst the Gonds. 

Not, however, until the arrival of the Rev. 
£. Champion, in 1860, was work pressed on with 
full vigour. During the twenty-one years of 
Mr. Champion's labours in this part of India he 

143 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

accomplished a great deal. Of the many boys 
trained in an orj^anage which he started at 
Chiriadongree, near Mandla, one^ the Rev. 
Failbus^ was destined to be the first Indian 
clergyman in the Gond mission. 

Towards the ^id of Mr. Champion's period 
the Rev. H. D. Williamson joined the mission^ 
and laid the main fomidations of the existing work 
amongst the Gonds of the Mandla district. The 
Gondi language was, under his guidance, reduced 
to writing, and a Hindi grammar and vocabulary 
were prepared by him. Portions of the New 
Testament and numerous Bible stories were 
translated into Gondi. A valuable h3ann book 
was also translated by him into Hindi, a language 
understood by most of the Gonds in the Satpuras. 

The story of Mr. Williamson's first Gond con- 
vert is so typical of the earliest stage in conversion 
amongst some of the most spiritual of our abori- 
ginal Christians, that I venture to tell it, very 
much as it is told in Mr. Fryer's Uttle book. The 
Story of the Gond Mission 

Bhoi Baba was the head-man of a village, and 
" a devotee." His reputation for religious devo- 
tion was widespread. He had learnt to read, and 
was in the habit of spending long periods in 
meditation. On one occasion he spent weeks 
meditating on a huge rock in the middle of a river, 
and on another sp^it a similar period under a 
large pipal tree in his own village. 

Hearing of his devotion, Mr. WiUiamson 

144 



MISSION WORK IN GONDWANA 

determined to visit him in his village. On the day 
of his arrival^ however, at the Bhoi's village, he 
heard with deep regret that the Bhoi was absent, 
and would not be back for days. Much to his 
surprise and delight, however, shortly before night 
feU, the Bhoi walked into his village. Nor was 
Mr. WiUiamson's delight lessened when the Bhoi 
told him ** that when he had travelled about ten 
miles from his village, something had said to him, 
" Go back to your village at once." ^ 

Then began a course of instruction which led 
to his conversion and baptism a few months later. 

Since Mr. WiUiamson's departure from the 
mission several missionaries of our Church have 
worked in this district for longer or shorter periods. 
It is interesting to note that two of their nitoiber, 
the Rev. H. P. Parker and the Rev. H. Molony, 
were taken from this jungle mission to fill 
important missionary bi^oprics in other parts 
of the world. 

The Rev. H. P. Parker, after a short 
period of service in the Mandla district, was 
appointed as successor to Bishop Hannington, the 
Martyr Bishop of Uganda. Unfortunately on his 
way from the coast to his diocese, in the heart of 
Africa, he contracted fever and died before 
reaching Uganda. The other missionary to 
the Gonds similarly honoured was the Rev. 
Herbert Molony, now Bishop of Chehkiang in 
China. With deep devotion he laboured for many 
years amongst the Gonds. During his period 

145 

I0-O55I) 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

stations w^ e opened at Marpha in the heart of 
the district, and at Sukulpura, on the banks of the 
Nerbudda, at the edge of the Rewah State. 

This mission is, indeed, full of promise, if only 
more workers of the right kind can be found for 
it. One of its greatest needs is a medical mis- 
sionary, and another is a missionary with a 
practical knowledge of farming. Whether one 
sees it at Patpara, with its schools, orphanage, and 
leper settlement, at present unda* the manage- 
ment of the Rev. J. Wakeling ; or at its little 
agricultural settlement at Deori, where Mr. and 
Mrs. Charles are working ; or away in the heart 
of the jungle at Marpha, where for years past the 
Rev. E. D. Price (beloved of the Gonds) has 
been Uving, one can easily imderstand the feelings 
which Sir Donald McLeod felt in days gone by 
for these people, and their beautiful jungle country. 

It would be an easy and a pleasant task to tell 
something of the excellent missionary work which 
is being carried on by our Church in Jubbulpore 
and Katni, under the guidance of the Rev. 
Canon E. A. Hensley, Secretary of the Church 
Missionary Society. In such a description, w^e 
I to attempt it, some mention would have to be 
made of the fine Church Missionary Society High 
School in Jubbulpore for boys, and the excellent 
Church of England Zenana Missionary Society 
High School for girls in Katni, started a few years 
ago by Miss J. Bardsley. But as I have felt it 
wiser to limit myself ahnost exclusively to work 

146 



MISSION WORK IN GONDWANA 

amongst the Gonds^ I will, before concluding, 
turn my readers' attention, for a moment or two, 
to our work amongst the Gonds in the Chanda 
district. 

It is interesting to note that the mission at 
Chanda, like more than one mission of our Church 
in India, owes its commencement to an Indian 
chaplain. In the year 1870, when Chaplain of 
Nagpur, the Rev. G. T. Carruthers first urged 
the claims of India on the Episcopal Church of 
Scotland. Hitherto that Church had directed its 
foreign missionary efforts almost exclusively to 
work in South Africa. 

The earlier efforts of the Chanda mission were 
carried on largely by Indian workers. For a time 
the saintly Father Nehemiah Goreh, commonly 
called '^Nilkant Shastri," a converted Maratha 
Brahmin, worked in Chanda. As one who can 
recall his unique personality, I appreciate deeply 
Canon Wood's description of Nehemiah Goreh's 
work and influ^ice in Chanda. Of him he writes — 



** His memory is still green. I have heard from 
many lips the tale of his argument with Pilba, the 
Guru of the Kabir Panthis, of his casting down of 
the god of the Mahars, that stood on the wall by 
the Pathanpura gate, and thereby converting one 
family, and frightening another family, so that 
they fled to the Nizam's dominion to escape the 
wrath of that god, and have not returned to this 
place. . . But the story that I like best of all is 
how he used to preach in the bazaar. They tell 

147 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

of him as a slim figure dressed in a white cassock. 
Round his neck was a rosary of wooden beads^ 
and attached to it a wooden cross. In his hand he 
held a heavy wooden cross, that stood higher than 
his head, and on this he leaned. People passed 
and re-passed ^oing about their business, but he 
stood still, taking no notice of them whatever. 
But as he stood silent there, for an hour, perhaps^ 
or more, the people noted, watched, stood around 
at a distance, waiting shyly, for whether he were 
a Christian or not, at least he was a Brahmin. 
Then, at last, when a circle had gadiered round 
him in ihe cool of the evening, he preached to 
them of Christ." 

Under his saintly influence the mission grew^ 
and when he left Chanda in 1874 he had already 
gathered out from heathenism a smaU body of 
Christians. Then for twenty years the mission 
was entrusted to the care of the Rev. Israel 
Jacob, until the arrival of the Rev. A. Wood 
in December, 1896. From that time forward the 
work of the mission has gone on steadily and 
strongly, imtil it has gained a real place in the life 
and affection of the people of the old Gond capital 
and its surrounding country. Assisted by his 
colleagues, the Rev. G. D. Philip, tixe Rev. 
J. R. McKenzie, and by some devoted lady 
workers, schools and orphanages have been 
started, a mission church built and consecrated, 
fresh stations created, and an important branch 
of work opened in Nagpur itself. 

In a charming little book, called In and Out of 

148 



MISSION WORK IN GONDWANA 

Chanda, we have a most interesting account of this 
mission^ mainly from the writings of Canon Wood. 

Looldng bade over the years which have passed 
since my Consecration in 1903^ I recall no happier 
days than those I have spent during my visits to 
our missions amongst the Gonds in the Mandla 
district and in Chanda. 

My task is now completed^ but^ ere I bring my 
story of Gondwana to a conclusion^ I would say 
one or two words on behalf of the aim of all true 
missionary enterprise in India. 

It is Uttle more than fifty years since the great 
John Lawrence, when speaking of mission work, 
told the people of England that '' Christian truths 
taught in a Christian way will never offend the 
people of India." 

There is a hard and unsympathetic way of 
approaching those from whom we differ, which is 
certain to stir up bitterness and angry feeling ; but 
the simple presentation of the Life and Teaching 
of Christ by men and women who are endeavouring 
to imitate His supreme example, in Uves of lowly 
service, kindliness, and self-sacrifice, can never 
produce anything save feelings of respect and 
admiration amongst the masses of India, who are 
essentially religious. 

But there is one aspect of the missionary 
message which may well be considered by a people 
like the English, on whom imperial and wide- 
world responsibilities are laid. Never was the 
teaching of Christ about the brotherhood of man 

149 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

more needed than it is to-day. We have seen 
what terrible evils an exaggerated patriotism may 
bring on the world. What the world most needs 
to-day is the Divine Spirit of love and brother- 
hoody which can draw the various races of mankind 
together^ and can make them realise that not in 
envy and hatred, and not in an endeavour to 
destroy one another, but in mutual co-operation 
and goodwill he the highest and deepest interests, 
as well as the truest and noblest life for all 
mankind. 



ISO 



CHAPTER XV 

THE STORY OF LINGO 

Ye who love a Nation's legends. 
Love the ballads of a people. 
That like voices from afar off 
Call to us to pause and listen. 
Speak in tones so plain and childlike. 
Scarcely can the ear distinguish 
Whether they are sung or spoken: — 
Listen to this Indian legend. 

^Longfellow. 

No account of the Gonds would be complete 
without some reference to the quaint songs which 
link themselves with the name of Lingo^ the Gond 
prophet^ and which form a sort of Epic once 
recited by Gond Pardhans^ or Bards. This Epic 
for so we may style it^ was first brought to light 
half a century ago, by the Rev. S. Hislop, one 
of the pioneer missionaries of the last century. 
Hislop in his wanderings amongst the Gonds, and 
in his researches into things Gondian, first heard 
of it from one of their Pardhans, or Bards. He 
reduced it to writing in the Gondi language with 
his own hand shortly before his too early and 
tragic death ; and the task of having it translated, 
first into Hindi, and afterwards into EngUsh, was 
carried out under the direction* of his friend. 
Sir R. Temple, the Chief G)mmissioner of the 

151 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Central Provinces. The English translation as 
it is found in these pages is that of Sir R. Temple 
himself^ which is in every way to be preferred to a 
paraphrase cast in the metre of Longfellow's 
"Hiawatha/' by Captain Forsyth in The Highlands 
of Central India. Reading it for the first time in 
Forsyth's paraphrase and with his not very 
sympathetic comments fresh in my mind^ I was 
certainly not prepared for the quaint humour 
and real charm revealed in Sir R. Temple's 
translation. 

This Epic, as Sir R, Temple truly says, is " a 
compendium of Gond thoughts and notions." 
Though abounding in things borrowed from the 
Hindus, it is possessed of real originality, and in 
many passages steeped with Gond ideas. It was 
customary for Gond Pardhans to recite it to 
circles of Ustening Gonds at marriages, and on 
other festive occasions. Now that under changed 
conditions of Gond life it is seldom if ever heard 
(it is, I am told, quite unknown in most parts 
of modem Gondwana), it is well that Hislop's 
interesting discovery ^ould be rescued from the 
oblivion into which it has undoubtedly fallen. 

As to how old this story of Lingo really is, no 
one can say. One or two scholars with higher 
critical tendencies have suggested that it is possibly 
of Brahmanic origin, and that it may have been 
foisted on the Gonds for the purpose of popu- 
larising amongst theni the worship of Shiva. Sir 
R. Temple in his editorial notes expresses the view 

152 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

that though the original form must be quite 
ancient^ yet the framework of the story^ as it now 
exists^ was clearly composed after the arrival of 
the Aryans amongst the aborigines in Central 
India. The Epic was never written^ and' the 
modem Gond Pardhans, being unlettered men, do 
not attempt to explain its history. 

Sir R. Temple divides it into five parts. Such 
a division is a good way of reminding the modern 
reader that it was probably sung or recited in 
parts. It is also a convenient way of separating 
the various subjects treated in the Epic. 

Part I — deals with the creation of the Gond 

people and their subsequent bondage. 

Part II — tells of the birth, life and death of the 

m3rthical hero, the Prophet Lingo. 

Part III —deals with the revival of Lingo and his 

delivery of the Gonds from bondage. 

Part IV — deals with the sub-division of the 

Gonds into tribes and the institution 
of the worship of the Gonds. 

Part V — deals Math the institution of the rites 

of marriage amongst the Gonds by 
Lingo. 

As Sir R. Temple's translation fills many pages, 
it is necessary for us to omit considerable portions 
of it, and to confine ourselves to its more interesting 
parts, especially those which throw light on Gond 
customs. 

153 



Part I 

THE CREATION OF THE GOND PEOPLE AND 
THEIR SUBSEQUENT BONDAGE 

The history opens in the silence and solitude of 
the glens of the seven hills, which are clearly the 
Satpura Mountains of the Central Provinces. 

In the midst of twelve hills, in the glens of seven 
hills, is Lingan, or Mount Lingana. 

In the Mount is a flower tree named Dati. 
Thence for twelve leagues (kds^) there are no 
dwellers. 

Caw says there is no crow, chirp sa)^ there is 
no bird, roar says there is no tiger. 

Then follows a weird passage (in which Hindu 
ideas are clearly predominant), which describes 
the process by which the Gond people were 
created. 

The god Mahadeva performs an act of penance 
(tap) which lasts for twelve months. At the end 
of the period, one, KaUa Adao, the Divine Ancestor 
of the Gonds, is bom " from a boil in Mahadeva's 
hand.'^ KaUa Adao in his turn performs an act 
of penance (tap), and from a boil in his own hand 
sixteen daughters are bom. He is bitterly dis- 
appointed. Daughters are regarded by him, as 
by so many Indians, as by no means a blessing. 

154 



tt 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

What I Why are these daughters bom ? I 
shall have cause to cast my head down. When 
shall I bring husbands for them ? '' 



He took hold of them, and threw them m the 
water. After throwmg them into it the water 
dried up, and sixteen sorts of earth were produced. 

After this rather drastic way of disposing of 
his sixteen daughters who, the Pardhan explained 
to Hislop/were goddesses from whose remains 
the several soils known to Gonds were made 
(black cotton, reddish earth, sandy ground, 
murrum, gravd, etc.), Kalia Adao began a second 
penance (tap). On this occasion he was more 
successful. From it " twelve threshing-floors of 
Gondi gods were bom." These are the ancestors 
of thejGond race. 

Then follows an amusing description of the wild 
Gonds in their primitive state. Ignorant, dirty, 
madly fond of sport, they incur the displeasure 
of the great god Mahadeva, who, by an ingenious 
and most ungod-like trick, lures them, like the 
Pied Piper of Hamlin, into a vast cave, where 
th^ are incarcerated. A giant Bhasmasur stands 
guard over it. Four Gonds, however, more slow 
of foot than their brethren, remain outside. 
Parvati, the wife of Mahadeva and a lover of the 
Gonds, is in deep distress at their disappearance. 
She commences an act of devotion (tap) and at 
the end of it the high god, Bhagawan, says that 
he will again make her Gonds visible. 

155 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Twelve threshing-floors^ of Gondi gods* were 
bom. 

Hither and thither all the Gonds were scattered 
in the jungle. 

Places, hills, and valleys, were filled with these 
Gonds. 

Even trees had their Gonds. How did the Gonds 

conduct themselves ? 
Whatever came across them they must needs 

kill and eat it. 

They made no distinction. If they saw a jackal 
they killed and ate it. 

No distinction was observed ; they respected not 
antelope, sambhar, and the like. 

They made no distinction in eating a sow, a quail, 
a pigeon, a crow, a kite, an adjutant, a vulture : 

A lizard, a frog, a beetle, a cow, a calf, a he- and 
she-bufialo: 

Rats, bandicoots, squirrels — all these they killed 
and ate. 

So began the Gonds to do. They devoured raw 
and ripe things. 

They did not bathe for six months together. 

They did not wash their faces properly, even on 
dung-hills they would fall down and remain. 

Such were the Gonds bom in the beginning. A 
smell was spread over the jungle. 

When the Gonds were thus disorderly behaved : 
they became disagreeable to Mahadeva. 

^ The threshing-floor is one of the most important [daces 
in Indian village Ufe. 
* The original Gonds are spoken of as " gods." 

156 



EPIC OF LINGO — " THE SQUIRREL RAX AND THEV PURSUED IT " 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

Who said, ''The caste of the Gonds is very bad. 

" I will not preserve them ; they will ruin my hiU 
Dhawalagiri. 

''I perceive here and there smells." So said 
Mahadeva. ''Call the Gonds." 

So said he to Narayan. He went, and called 
them. 

And brought them into the presence of Mahadeva. 

When they were standing; Mahadeva arose and 
looked and saw all the (ronds come. 

He spoke within himself, and took them away 
into his valley. 

He made them to sit in a Une, and he sat at the 
head of them. 

He took substance from his own body, and made 
it into a squirrel. 

Thus he made a squirrel while bathing, and gave 
it Ufe. 

When he made it alive, he caused it to run away, 

Wiih its upright tail the squirrel ran from the 
midst of them. 

The Gonds saw it running, and they pursued it. 

As the Gonds were pursuing it, some said, " Kill 
it, kill it !" 

Another said, "Catch it ; it will serve as a nice 
roast." 

So saying some seized a stick, some a stone. 

Some seized a clod; their waist-cloths were 
shaking ; their hair began to fly about . 

The squirrel entered a hole, which was the god's 
prison on earth. 

The Gonds also followed it up to the hole. 

157 



t€ 

€€ 
it 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

All the threshing-floor^ Gonds ran into the cave. 

Thus all the Gonds ran ; the rest^ four * in number, 
remained behind. 

They came to Parvati ; she was sleeping. In the 
meantime she awoke. She cared for &e Gonds. 
She said, *'For many days I have not seen my 
Gonds. 

''There used to be noise in mount Dhawalagiri. 

But to-day there is silence. For many days 
there has been a smell (of Gonds). 

But to-day I perceive no smell. 

They must have gone somewhere. 

'' Mahadeva is not to be seen, where did he lead 
them ? " Thus said Parvati. 

She ascended Dhawalagiri, and saw no Gonds. 
Then she said to Mahadeva, "My Gonds do 
not appear, where have they gone ? " 

Mahadeva arose and placed a stone sixteen cubits 
long at the entrance of the cave, and thus shut 
in me Gonds. 

He stationed Bhasmasur,' a giant, to guard it. 
Still Parvati remained asking after them. 

Then said Mahadeva, ''Dhawalagiri began to be 
odorous, and I fell into a rage thereat. 

^ See note on line 11. The term '' threshing-floor Gonds '* 
means the r^;ular Gonds created by Mahadeva. 

* The number of four persons, which appears in subsequent 
parts of the story, might be thought to have some significance, 
but none is ascertainable. 

* This Bhasmasur was one of the giants of Hindu m}rthol- 
ogy, who got from Shiva power to reduce to ashes all whom 
he touched. He became so troublesome that Shiva, in 
self-defence, had to kill him. 

158 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

"But four Gonds have survived, and they are 
fled." So said he. 

Then Parvati thought in her mind, "My Gonds 
are lost." 



The four Gonds who fled travelled onward over 
hills. 

Thence they went and saw a tree rising upright, 
as Date tree. 

Which they cUmbed, and looked about them. 

They said, "There is no hiding place visible for us. " 

But one of them looked and saw a place named 
Kachikopa^ Lahugad. 

They went by the jungle road and reached that 
place. 

There the four brothers remained. 

When the Gonds were not to be found, Parvati 
began to feel regret for them. 

She then commenced a devotion (tap). 

Six months passed. 

Parvati ended her tap. Bhagawan* (god) mean- 
while was swinging in a swing. 

^ The name Kachikopa Lahugad appears frequently in 
the story, but there is no known place particularly of that 
name. The meaning in Gondi is the " Iron Valley — the Red 
HOk/* a nomenclature very applicable to the mineral products 
and external aspect of many hills in the Gonds' country. 

* The name god Bhagawan occurs frequently in all the 
Parts. It is borrowed, of course, from Hinduism. It is 
remarkable that this name should be used, as the Gonds give 
the name of Bara Deo to the one great God, supreme over aU 
the gods. The name Bara Deo is found nowhere in tibfi^ 
songs. 

ise 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

He said^ ^^What devotee at my resting time has 
begun a devotion? 

^'Narayan, go and see to it." 

Narayan went to see ; ascending a hill^ he came 
to Parvati. And stood whUe Parvati was 
performing her tap, and saying, '^ My threshing- 
floor Gond^ do not appear. 
'* Therefore I conunenced my devotion." 
When Narayan heard this he ran ; resting and 
running, he came to Bhagawan and said^ 
^* Parvati is performing a devotion, and says my 
threshing-floor Gonds do not appear; where 
have ihey gone ? " 

Bhagawan said, ''Go and tell her, I will make 
her Gonds visible." 



160 



Part II 

THE BIRTH, LIFE AND DEATH OF LINGO 



There he sang of 
Sang his wondrous birth and being. 
How he lived, and toiled and suffered. 
That he might advance his people. 

—Longfellow. 

The Gond race is embowelled in the earth. Only 
four Gonds remain outside. Bhagawan, the high 
god, had promised the goddess Parvati, Mahadeva's 
wife, to rescue them from their incarceration. 
This is the- state of things when the second part 
of the poem begins. Amid the same scenes of 
silence and solitude, described for us in the 
opening lines j3f the Epic, there stood a flower tree 
called Dati. By the decree of Bhagawan from 
one of the flowers of this tree was to spring one 
" without father or mother " who was to be the 
teacher and dviliser of the Gonds, and eventually 
their deliverer from Mahadeo's cruel incarceration. 
His name is Lingo. Though he appears throughout 
the poem in the character of a Hindu saint, the 
name is said to be of Gond origin. Sometimes 
he is called Bhan (Gondi for devotee) and 
sometimes Pariur (Gondi for saint). 

In one passage Lingo is spoken of as a pure and 
sinless bdng. '' Lingo was a perfect man ; water 
may be stained, but he had no stain whatever.'' 

161 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Then care fell to Bhagawan (god)^ There was a 
tree. 

It was blossoming. Then, said he, *'One of its 
flowers shall conceive." 

By God's doing, clouds and winds were loosed. 
A cloud 

Like a fan arose ; thunder roared, and lightning 
flashed. 

The flower burst, clouds opened, and darkness # 
fell ; the day was hid. 

A heap of turmeric fell at the fourth watch of the 
night. 

In the morning, when clouds resounikd with 
thunder, the flower opened 

And burst, and Lingo was bom, and he sprang, 
and fell into the heap of turmeric. 

Then the clouds clearedi and at the dawn Lingo 
began to cry. 

Thereat, care fell upon God ; the (face of Lingo) 
began to dry amidst the powder. 

But by God's doing, there was a fig tree, on which 
was honey. 

The honey hwcst, and a small drop fell into his 
mouth. 

Thus the juice continued to fall, ^d his mouth 
began to suck. 

It was noon, and wind blew, when Lingo b^an 
to grow. 

He leapt into a swing, and began to swing, when 
day was set 

Lingo arose with haste, and sat in a cradle 
swinging. 

162 



BIRTH OF LINGO — " THE FLOWER OPENED " 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

Lingo was a perfect man ; water may be stained 
but he had no stain whatever. 

There was a diamond on his navel; and sandal 
wood mark on his forehead. He was a divine 
saint. He became two years old. 

He played in turmeric^ and slept in a siwing. Thus 
days rolled away. 

He became nine years old ; he was ordered not to 
eat anything from o& the jungle trees/ or 
thickets. 

Lingo's childhood and youth were spent Pan- 
like in absolute solitude. He craved for the society 
of other men like himself. Filled with this desire 
he set out on a journey which led him to Kachikopa 
Lahugad— " The Iron Valley— the Red Hills/' an 
adndrable description of many of the hills of the 
Satpuras — ^with thdr red rocks abounding in 
manganese ore. Here he sees for the first time 
his fellow-men, who turn out to be the four 
surviving Gonds. 

Lingo, in his mind, said, ''Here is no person to be 
seen ; man does not appear, neither are there 
any animals. 

''There appears none like me ; I will go where 
I can see someone like myself." 

Havinp; said so, one day he arose and went on 
straight. 

He ascended a needle-like hill; there he saw a 
Mundita tree : 

Below was a tree named Kidsadita ; it blossomed. 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

He went thither, and having seen flowers, he 
smeUed them. 

He went a little beyond, upon a precipitous hill, 
and climbed a tree. 

Then. he looked around and saw smoke arising 
from Kachikopa Lahugad. 

"What is this ? " said he ; "I must go and see it/' 

He ascended, and saw the smoke. The four 
brothers quickly brought their game, and began 
to roast it ; they began to eat it raw or cooked. 

In the meantime Lingo went there. They saw 
him and stood up ; he stood also ; 

Neither spoke to the other. The four then began 
to say within themselves, 

"We are four brothers, and he will be the fifth 
brother. Let us call him. 

"We will go and bring him." Then they went. 

They came to the place where he was. "Who 
art thou ? " asked they of Lingo. 

Lingo said, "I am Saint Lingo ; I have a knot 
of hair on my head." 

The four brothers said, "Come to our house." 

They took him home. Some game was lying thare. 

Then follows an amusing description of Lingo 
joining these four Gonds in their favourite pas- 
time of hunting. The hunt is for an anhnal 
"without a liver," which, needless to say, was 
never found. 

Lingo said, "What is this ? " They said, "It is 
game that we have brought." 

164 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

'' What kind of game is this ? " Lingo asked. 
They said, *'It is a pig.'* 

He said, '* Give me its liver." There was no liver 
there. Then they said, 

''Hear, O brother, we iiave killed an animal 
without liver I " 

Then Lingo said, '' Let me see an animal without 
liver." 

Then care fell upon them. '' Where shall we show 
him an animal without a liver ? " said they. 

One said, " Hear my word I He is a little fellow, 
we are big men ; we will take him to the jungle 
among large stones. 

''Among thorns in thickets and caves we will 
roam ; he will get tired, and will sit down ; 

"He will be thirsty and hungry, then he will 
propose to return. 

With Lingo they, with bow and arrow in their 
hands, went by the jungle road. 

Onward they went, and saw an antelope. Lingo 
said, " Kill it I " 

It had a Uver. Then came a sambhar, "Kill 
ye it I " 

It had a liver. A hare came, and he said, " Kill 
ye it I " 

It had a liver. 

Thus the devout Lingo did not tire. These four 
brothers were tired. 

For water they thirsted. On a steep they 
ascended to look for water ; 

But no water appeared, so they descended from 
the hiU. 

165 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Thus they came to a thick jungle of Anjun trees 
where thorny plants blocKed the road. 

They came and stood. A little water appeared. 
They plucked Palas (Butia) leaves, and made 
them into a trough ; 

They drank water with it, and were much refreshed. 

Lingo said, '' What are you doing sitting there ? " 

They said, ^' We cannot find an animal without 
a Uvo-." 



Then follows a description of a very ancient 
and primitive method of cultivation, which is still 
practised by Gonds, and other aborigines, in the 
hilly and forest parts of India. A piece of forest 
land on a hill-side is selected. The trees at the 
edge of the forest are cut down, and set fire to. 
When the monsoon-rains come, the ashes of these 
trees are washed over the soil near this forest, 
and on this land manured with nothing save these 
ashes, and over which no plough has passed, the 
seed is sown. An abundant crop is the result. This 
land is sown again the next year, but with dimin- 
ishing result. It is then abandoned for twelve 
years, during which period the Gonds think it 
will have recovered its strength, and again be 
able to yield crops. Such a method of cultivation, 
called "Dhaya," is obviously most destructive 
to forests ; and as the ashes of the teak tree are 
especially fertiUsing, it is certain that many a 
tract of country in the Central Provinces has been 
deprived of its noble teak forests by the Gonds, 

166 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

in their ladness and ignorance. The verses 
bdow describe the cutting down of the forest 
trees preparatory to burning them. 

They went aside and sat down. Then arose 
Lingo and held a hatchet in his hand ; 

And went on cutting trees ; the trees fell, their 
roots were dug up. 

Thus he began to cut down jungles. In an hour 
he made a good field. 

They said, ^' Our hands are blistered, and not one 
tree have we cut down. 

''But Lingo in one hour has cut down several 
trees; 

''He has made the black soil appear, and has 
sown rice and hedged it round ; 

"He has made a door to it, and has made a 
shutter for the door." 

Then they arose and took their homeward road, 
and came to their own houses. 

On the first day of the rainy season a little black 
cloud appeared. 

Wind blew violently; it was cloudy all day; 
rain began to fell. 

Rills in the open places were filled knee-deep; 
all the holes were filled with water. 

When the rain had poured for three days, the 
weather became fair ; rice b^;an to spring ; 

All the fields appeared green. In one day the 
rice grew a finger's br^tdth high ; 

In a month it rose up to a man's knee. 

167 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Then follows a channing passage describing how 
a herd of deer or nilgai (bhie bull) visit the crops 
so recently sown by Lingo^ and eat the young rice. 
The Gonds^ on returning to their fields^ find their 
crops eaten, and filled with anger, pursue the deer 
under the guidance of Lingo. Two only of the 
herd escape. 

There were sixteen scores of nilgais or deer, 
among whom two bucks, imcle and nephew, 
were chiefs. 

When the scent of rice spread around^ they came 
to know it ; thither they went to graze. 

At the head of the herd was the unde, and 
the nephew was at the rear. 

With cracking joints the nephew arose; he 
leaped upwards. 

With two ears upright, and with cheerful heart, 
he boimded towards his uncle. 

And said, ''Someone has a beautiful field of 
rice : it must be green tender fodder. 

''To us Uttle ones give that field, the sixteen 
scores of deer will go there ; 

" After eating rice we will come back.'* The 
uncle said, "O nephew, hear my words! 
Take 

The name of the field, but not that of 
Lingo's field. 

Otherwise he will not preserve even one of 
the sixteen scores of deer for seed to carry 
on the race." 

The nephew said, "You are old, but we are 
young ; we will go. 

168 



it 



t€ 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

'^Arriving there we will eat. If any one sees 
us we will bound away; 

'' We will make a jump of five cubits, and 
thus escape; but you, being an old one, 
vnH be caught. 

''Therefore you are afraid to go, I will not 
hear your word; don't come with us/' 

So said the nephew. With straight tails and 
erect ears they turned back. 

The uncle was grieved. Then he arose and 
went after them ; 

They left him far behind. The herd came near 
the fields ; 

But the nephew and the deer began to look 
for a way to enter it, but could not find one. 

The deer said, "Your unde was the wise one 
amongst us, of whom shall we now ask 
advice ? 

" We have left him behind ; instead of him, you 
are our chief." 

The nephew said, ''Do as you see me doing 
before you." 

He put himself in front, when one of the deer 
said 

At first, "Your uncle told you that this is 
Lingo's field, but you did not hear ; 

" Look behind and before you ; be prudent." 
So said the deer. 

But the nephew said, " We will not keep an 
old one's company." 

So he, being in front, gave a bound, and was 
in the midst of the rice, 

lee 



THE STORY OP GONDWANA 

And stood; then all the deer came aftor him 
leaping. 

After him came the unde to the hedge and 
stood. 

All the deer were eating rice. But the unde 
could not find his way. 

Being old^ he was unable to leap the door of the 
field of rice. 

They went from thence and leaped back over 
the hedge^ when the tmde said to them-^ 

" Hear, O sixteen scores of deer, you have 
eaten this field I 

'* Father Lingo, when he comes to it, 

" What measures will he adopt ? " Then the 
nephew, who was behind, came in front. 

And said, '^Hear, O friends and brethren I flee 
from this place but hear my word. 

"As you flee, keep your feet on leaves, and 
stones, and boughs, and grass, but don't put 
yom- feet on the soil." 

So said the nephew. 

As he told them so they did — all the sixteen 
scores of deer began to run. 

And left no mark nor traces. 

Then they stopped : some remained standing, 
some slept. 

In the midst of the flower fragrance was Lingo 
sleeping, while half of the night was passed. 

In his dream he isaw a field eaten by deer, and 
all the rice becoming spoilt. 

Then Lingo departed, and took his road to 
Kachikopa Lahugad. 

170 



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THE STORY OF LIMGO 

Hence he departed^ and went to the brothers and 
said, " O brothers I out of your house come ye ; 

^^ Hear one word : the deer have eaten our 
field of rice." 

The four brothers said, '' We need rice to ofier 
our first-fruits to the gods." 

Then Lingo said, " Hear, O brethren ! our rice 
has been eaten up ; 

" It has spoilt ; we have no first-fruits." 
Lingo said, " We will ojffer the liver of these 
deer as first-fruits ; 

Then I wiU remain as a devotee, otheiiwise 
my power will vanish. 

I will fill my stomach by the smelling of 
flowers ; 

'' But how will the Gonds fill their bellies, there 
is nothing for their eating — 

*'The rice has been spoilt by the deer." So 
said Lingo. 

The four brothers said, " We will take in our 
arms bow and arrow." 

With anger against the deer they came to the 
field, and entered in the midst of it. 

When they came in the centre they saw only 
black soil. 

Only rice stubble appeared, and Lingo saw 
nothing. 

Then his anger arose from the heel to the head, 
and he bit his finger on the spot ; 

His eyes became red. " Where are the deer ? " 
said he, "look for them." 

They looked, but did not see anywhere the 
footprints of deer. 

171 



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THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Near a tree they beheld some foot-marks : they 
looked at it. 

As they went they beheld a jmigle trodden 
down ; then some traces appeared. 

Onward they went, but did not see the deer, 
they beheld a Peq>ul tree. 

Lingo said, '' I will climb the tree, you stand 
below." 

From the top he looked, and the deer ware 
visible. He said. 

The deer are in sight, some are seated, scmie 
are sleeping, some are leajMng about. 

You four brothers separate yourselves on 
four sides with your arrows. 

And allow not one of the deer to escape. 

*' I will shoot them from the tree, and you shoot 
from below." 

Having heard this, the four brothers went and 
ambuscaded on fom* sides. 

They shot their arrows from four comers, while 
Lmgo shot from the tree. 

The uncle, the buck, and one deer alone sur- 
vived; they had aimed at them also, but 
the arrow fell from Lingo's hand. 

He said to himself, " When the arrow fell out 
of my hand, that must have been a good 
omen, 

'* That uncle is a devout follower of the servant 
of god, he has not eaten an3rthing." 

But the two survivors began to run ; then these 
four brothers went siter them in pursuit, 
saying, '* We will catch them here or there." 

172 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

But the two could not be found ; then the 
brothers turned and looked around. 

The eldest brother said^ "Hear^ O brethren! 
These two have escaped, and Lingo 

''Has remained behind at a distance from us. 
Let us return/' said the eldest brother. 

When they returned, Lingo asked them, " Where 
have you been ? " 

They said, "The two survivors have fled and 
cannot be found, so we have returned to you." 

Then Lingo tried to teach the primitive Gonds 
how to obtain fire by means of flint. His lesson 
was not very successful, and as his four disciples 
had never seen fire, he told them that living just 
three koss (six miles) is a giant named Rikad 
Gawadi, in whose field they will see fire, that 
great gift of the gods to man. 

It has been suggested by Sir R. Temple in his 
editorial notes that the name Gawadi m&y be a 
corruption of Gawali or Gaoli, a cowherd. The 
Gaolis, a race either of Hindus or aborigines, 
were a powerful race at one time in Gondwana, 
and established a dynasty in the modem Chhind- 
wara district. It is possible that the Gonds 
learnt something of their civilisation from them, 
and in some cases — ^as is suggested by this Epic — 
found wives among their daughters. Lingo sug- 
gests that the four Gonds should go and see fire 
for themselves. The youngest goes and narrowly 
escapes a most disagreeable fate. He returns to 

173 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

his brethren^ and to Lingo^ and tells them what 
has happened. Lingo himself then determines to 
go. The description of Lingo playing on his 
guitar up in a tree (the two-stringed guitar is a 
favourite instrument with Gonds), while the giant 
and his wife dance (dancing is a passion with the 
Gonds and other aborigines of India)^ is most 
grotesque and amusing. As a result of his visit 
he takes away with him the giant's seven daughters 
to wed with the four Gonds. 

He said, '' I will show you something ; see if 
anywhere in your waistbands there is a flint; 
if so, take it out and make fire." 

Then they took out pieces of flint and began 
to make fire, 

But the matches did not ignite. As they were 
doing this, a watch of the night passed. 

They threw down the matches, and said to 
Lingo, "Thou art a saint; 

''Show us where our fire is, and why it does 
not come out." 

Lingo said, "Three koss (six miles) hence is 
Kikad Gawadi the giant. 

"There is fire in his field; where smoke shall 
appear, go there. 

"Come not back without bringing fire." Thus 
said Lingo. 

They said, "We have never seen the place, 
where shall we go ? " 

"Ye have nevw seen where this fire is?" ^ 

Lingo said; ^ 

174 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

" I will discharge an arrow thither. 

''Go in the direction of the arrow ; there you 
will get fire/' 

He applied the arrow^ and having puUed the 
bow, he discharged one; 

It crashed on, breaking twigs, making its 
passage clear. 

Having cut through the high grass, it made its 
way and reached the old man's place. 

The arrow dropped close to the fire of the old 
man, who had daughters. 

The arrow was near the door. As soon as they 
saw it, the daughters came and took it up. 

And kept it. They asked their father, ** When 
will you give us in marriage ? " 

Thus said the seven sisters, the daughters of 
the old man« 

'' I will marry you as I think best for you ; 

** Remain as you are " ; so said the old man, 
the Rikad Gawadi. 

Lingo said, ''Hear, O brethren! I shot an 
arrow; it made its way. 

"Go there, znd you will see fire; bring thence 
the fire." 

Each said to the other, " I will not go " : but 
at last the youngest went. 

He descried the fire, and went to it ; then 
beheld he an old man looking like the trunk 
of a tree. 

He saw afar the old man's field, around which 
a hedge was made. 

175 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

The old man kept only one way to it, and 
^tened a screen .to the entrance, and had a 
fire in the centre of the field. 

He placed logs of the Mahua and Anjan and 
Saj trees on the fire. 

Teak faggots he gatheredt and enkindled flame. 

The fire blazed up, and, warmed by the heat of 
it, in deep sle^ lay the Rikad 6awadi. 

Thus the old man like a giant did appear. 
When the young Gond beheld him, he 
shivered; 

His heart leaped; and he was much afraid in 
his mind, and said : 

" If the old man were to rise he will see me, 
and I shall be eaten up ; 

"I will steal away the fire, and carry it ofi, 
then my life will be safe/' 

He went near the fire secretly, and took a brand 
of Tembhur wood tree. 

When he was lifting it up a spark flew and fell 
on the hip of the old man. 

That spark was as large as a pot : the giant 
was bUstered : he awoke alarmed. 

And said, '' I am hungry, and I cannot get food 
to eat anywhere ; I feel a desire f (h: flesh ; 

^'Like a tender cucumber hast thou come to 
me." So said the old man to the Gond, 

Who began to fly. The old man followed him. 
The Gond then threw away the brand which 
he had stolen. 

He ran onward and was not caught. Then the 
old man, being tired, turned back. 

176 



THE STORY OF UNGO 

Thence he turned to his field, and came near 
the fire, sat, and said, ** What nonsense is 
this? 

^*A tender prey had come within my reach; 

''I said, ' I will cut it up as soon as I can,' but 
it escaped from my hand I 

''Let it go I it will come again, then I will 
catch it. It is gone now." 

Then what happened ? the Gond returned and 
came to his brethren. 

And said to them, ** Hear, O brethren t I went 
for fire, as you sent me, to that field; I 
beheld an old man like a giant. 

'' With hands stretched out and feet Ufted up, 
I ran. I thus survived with difficulty." 

The brethren said to Lingo, " We will not go." 
Lingo said, '' Sit ye here. 

'' O brethren, what sort of a person is this giant. 
I will go and see him." 

So saying. Lingo went away and reached a river. 

He thence arose and went onward. As he 
looked, he saw in front three gourds. 

Then he saw a bamboo stick, which he took up. 

Wh^i the river was flooded. 

It washed away a gourd tree, and its seed fell, 
and each stem produced bottle gourds. 

He inserted a bamboo stick in the hollow of the 
gourd, and made a guitar. 

He plucked two hairs from his h,ead, and strung 
it. 

He held a bow, and fixed eleven keys to that 
one stick, and played on it. 

177 

UM355I) 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Lingo was much pleased in his mind. 

Holding it in his hand^ he walked in the 
direction of the old man's field. 

He approached the fire where Rikad Gawadi 
was sleeping. 

The giant seemed like a log lyin^ dose to the 
fire : his teeth were hideously visible ; 

His mouth was gaping. Lingo looked at the 
old man, while sleeping. 

His eyes were shut. Lingo said, "This is not 
good time to carry the old man ofi, while he 
is asleep." 

In front he looked, and turned round and saw 
a tree 

Of the Peepul ^ sort standing erect ; he beheld 
its branches 

With wonder, and looked for a fit place to 
mount upon. 

It appeared a very good tree ; so he climbed it, 
and ascended 

To the top of it, to sit. 

As he sat, the cock crew. Lingo said, '' It is 
daybreak ; 

"Meanwhile the old man must be rising.'' 
Therefore Lingo took the guitar in his hand. 

And held it ; he gave a stroke, and it sounded 
well; from it he drew one hundred tunes- 

It sounded well^ as if he was singing with his 
voice. 

Thus, as it were, a song was heard. 

^ One of the most sacred trees in India. 

178 



THE GIAXT AND HIS SPOUSE DANCE TO LINGO S PIPE 



k 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

Trees and hills were silent at its sound. The 
music loudly entered into 

The old man's ears; he rose in haste, and sat 
up quickly ; lifted up his eyes, 

And desired to hear more. He looked hither 
and thither, 

But could not make out whence the sound 
came. 

The old man said, '* Whence has a creature come 
here to-day to sing like the M3ma bird ? " 

He saw a tree, but nothing appeared to him as 
he looked underneath it. 

He did not look up ; he looked at the thickets 
and ravines. 

But saw nothing. He came to the road, and 
near to the fire. 

In the midst of the field, and stood. 

Sometimes sitting and sometimes standing, 
jumping and roUing he began to dance. 

The music sounded as the day dawned. His 
old woman came out in the morning, and 
began to look out. 

She heard in the direction of the field a 
melodious music pla3ring. 

When she arrived near the hedge of her field, 
she heard music in her ears. 

The old woman called her husband to her. 

With stretched hands and lifted feet, and 
with his neck bent down, he danced. 

Thus he danced. The old woman looked to- 
wards her husband, and said, ''My old man^ 
my husband, 

17» 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

*' Surely that music is very melodious. I will 
dance/' said the old woman. 

Having made the fold of her dress loose, she 
quickly began to dance near the hedge. 

Lingo said in his mind, '" I am a devout Lingo ; 
God's servant am L 

" I wear my dhotee (cloth round the loins) 
down to my heels, and keep a knot of hair 
on my head, and on the navel a diamond, 
and to my forehead a sacred mark.^ 

" Water may possess a stain, but I have none. 
I am Lingo. I will make the old man and 
woman 

"' To dance the Gond dance. I will sing a song, 
and cause them to dance, if I be Lingo/' 

Lingo worshipped his god, and invoked Budhal 
Pen, Adul Pen, 

The sixteen satika (goddesses), and eighteen 
flags, Manko Rayetal, Jango Rayetal, and 
Pharsa Pen,* 

And said, " Salutation to you gods I " He, 
holding his guitar in his nand, sang various 
tunes. 

" Is my guitar an allurement to them ? " So 
said Lingo. He stopped the guitar. 

From on high he saluted the uncle, Rikad 
Gawadi, the old man ; 

Who looked towards the top of the tree, and 
said, "Salutation to you, O nephew. 

^ The knot of hair dedicated to Vishnu and various kinds 
of sacred marics are commoQly seen amoogst Hindus. 
* The names of Gond gods. 

180 



THE STORY OF LINGO 



it 



Well hast thou deceived me/ and caused 
us to dance^ Whither hast thou come, 
nephew ? *' 

Lingo going to the old man, held his hand, and 
said, " Uncle, salutation to you I " 

They met together : nephew became known to 
the uncle, and the uncle to the nephew. 

After the meeting was over, the nephew held 
the uncle's hand. 

They both came near the fire and sat. "O 
nephew, whence hast thou come ? " asked the 
uncle. 

*' I have killed sixteen scores of deer ; we want 
to roast their liver to eat. 

We were trying to make fire fall from the 
flint, but fire fell not. 

You possess fire in your field, therefore I 
discharged an arrow. 

It came near your fire. It arose and fell at 
the door of your daughters. 

The daughters have lifted it up and carried 
it away. Have you no sense, uncle ? 

" I sent my brother to fetch fire, and you ran 
to eat him. 

" If you had caught him you would have eaten 
him up ; and where should I have seen him 
again ? " 

The uncle said, '* I made a mistake, O nephew, 
the thing that I did is past." 

He replied, ''O uncle, I have killed sixteen 
scores of deer I 

Go and eat their flesh as much as you like." 

181 



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THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Thus said Lingo. Th^i the old man said^ 
''Hear^ O nephew, my word. There are 
seven sisters, my daughters; 

'* I have them here. Take them away, having 
first bound their eyes." 

Lingo then arose, and stood befcHre the uncle 
and said, " I am going, uncle. 

"Receive my salutation." Lingo thence went 
by the way to the house, where the old man's 
daughters were. 

Having arrived, he stood at the door. Lingo 
appeared a youth of twelve years. 

Or as sixteen years old; in jEront he looked 
foppish, like a young man ; 

From behind he looked like a devout Brahman. 
He appeared as a good man. 

The seven sisters from within the house came 
to Lingo, and regarded him 

As a young man. They came out and stood 
before Lingo. 

"Tell us," said the seven sisters, "who art 
thou ? TeU us." 

He said, "Thy father is my uncle, and thy 
mother is my aunt. 

"I am devout Lingo, the servant of God. I 
am Lingo. 

" Here, O sisters I my arrow came to your 
house and fell; I have been in search of it 
for a long time. 

"My four brothers are sitting in the jungle; 
and I have killed sixteen scores of deer ; 

" They are also in the jungle, and my brothers 
are sitting near them. 

182 



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<< 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

** I have come here for fire : it is very late. 

"My brothers must be expecting fire; they 
must have felt hunger, 

"And thirsty they must have become; where 
will they get bread ? '* 

Thus said Lingo. Then the seven sisters, what 
did they begin to say ? 

Hear, O brother, our word. Thou art a son 
to uncle, and we daughters to atmt. 

There is a good relation between you and us ; 
how can you leave us ? 

*' We will come along with you ; therefore, 
don't say No." 

" If you like to come, be ready soon, and take 
the onward road," said Lingo. 

They took the bedding for their beds, and 
their clothes, and gave the arrow to Lingo, 

Lingo in the front, and they in the rear, began 
to tread the way. 

The brothers were sitting and looking, and 
saying, " When will he come ? " 

They beheld him from afar ; and said, " Hear, 
O brothers, our Lingo appears I " 

They arose and looked, and saw Lingo and 
behind him the seven sisters. 

They said, " With whose daughters, or whose 
daughters-in-^w 

" Is he coming ? Look, O brethren I they are 
of good appearance. 

"If Lingo give them to us, we would make 
them our wives." So said the brethren. 

188 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 



Lingo came near and stood, and said, " Hear, 
O brethren, my word I 

''These seven sisters are the daughters of our 
uncle ; they have come ; . 

"Take out your knives, and give to them the 
liver of the deer." 

They took out the hvers : some brought faggots 
and enkindled fire ; 

On its blaze they roasted flesh, and set it on 
the ground. 

" Offer this Uver in the name of God." 

So said the four brothers. Lingo arose. 

They began to eat, while Lingo did not eat. 
Tnen he said, 

"Let the seven sisters quickly go back, their 
, father will abuse them. 

" Hear, O sisters ! Go quickly, or else your 
mother will abuse you." 

They replied, and said, " Hear, O Lingo ! Thou 
who art called good, may we call you bad ? 

" We will not go, we will stay. Whither thou 
shalt go, thither we will follow thee." 

The brethren said, " Hear, O Lingo, these seven 
sisters say well! 

"Say thou to them, O brother, we will marry 
them. 

"We will make them our wives. Hear, 
Lingo, such is our word." 

He said, "Take these as wives in marriage, 
and I shall be greatly pleased. 

"Take them here in marriage, I will give you 
leave to make them your wives." 

184 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

They said, '' If you see any one of them to be 
good-looking, you take her. 

" If any be inferior, we will take her." 

\ said, ''Hear my word, O brothers! I do 
not need this. 



" I promised to give them to you ; they are of 
no use to me. 

So said Lingo, " If you marry them they will 
serve me. 

" They will be my sisters-in-law. You are older, 
and I am younger. 

" They can give me water and bread, and spread 
a hied for me : 

" I will sleep on it. They can give me a bath ; 
my clothes they will wash. 

'' They will be my sisters-in law, and like my 
mothers they ^all be." 

So said Lingo. When Lin^o said they will be 
my mothers, the suspicion of the four 
vanished. 

The four Gonds are enamoured with the stal- 
wart daughters of Rikad Gawadi, and desire the 
saint to tie the marriage knot as speedily as 
possible. The three elder Gonds are to receive 
two damsels each, and the youngest, who has but 
recently escaped from the jaws of his prospective 
father-in-law, has to be content with one. They 
return to their village of Kachikopa Lahugad, 
where the marriage is celebrated according to 
Gond rites. 

185 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

They went to Linso and asked him : " O Lingo, 
marry us quickly. 

" If you marry us, then they are seven sisters, 
and we are four brothers. 

** Distribute to each of us a wife, O Lingo." 

He said the three elder should marry' two each, 
and the youngest, only one. 

Then said Lin^o, " Hear my word, O brethren ! 
In this jungle 

"And in this plain how can we make prepara- 
tion ; we have our town, namely, Kachikopa 
Lahugad: 

" We will ^o there and make preparations for 
the marriage." 

So said Lingo. When they heard this, they 
departed. 

They walked in front, and the women walked 
behind. 

They came to their village Kachikopa Lahugad, 
and began to make 

Preparations. There were no men or women; 
then Lingo brought water. 

He bathed them, boiled turmeric and gave them, 
and pounded safiron. 

He erected a bower, and tied garlands of leaves 
round it. 

He called the four brothers to sprinkle turmeric 
round about. 

He applied turmeric to the four brothers and 
the seven sisters. 

He said, " We cannot marry all at once. Hear, 
O brothers. 

186 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

''Let us marry one set only first, and the rest 
shall work with us for that occasion. 

'* Then shall the marriage of the second set take 
place. 

*' Those who have been already married shall now 
help us in this marriage ceremony and so on.'' 

This said Lingo ; and the four consented to it. 
Thus ended the marriage. 

The remainder of this portion of the Epic shows 
how the saintly Lingo, in the absence of the four 
Gonds who go on a hunting expedition, is sub- 
jected to the same temptation which befell the 
patriarch Joseph in the house of Potiphar. 
Lingo, like Joseph, rises superior to his temptation, 
but, unlike Joseph, he administers severe corporal 
punishment to his temptresses. They in revenge 
accuse him falsely to their husbands when they 
return, and the four Gonds in rage slay their 
benefactor. 

'' Lingo has done good to us, and brought wives 
to our houses. 

** But Lingo is without a wife, he thought of 
our good, but not of his own, 

'' So we will reckon him as our father. 

'' We will kill game, and brin^ flowers for 
Lingo. Let him sit in a svdng. 

So said the four brothers. 

Lingo sat in a swing, and the seven sisters 
swung the swing. 

187 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

The four brothers took their bows and arrows 
and repaired to the jungle. 

After that, what happened ? The seven sisters 
said within themselves, "Hear, O sisters. 
The Lingo 

'* Is our husbands' younger brother, and we 
are his sisters-in-law ; we are at liberty to 
laugh with him ; 

" We can pull him by the hand, and we can 
make him to speak with us. 

"Lingo does not laugh with us; he neither 
speaks nor looks towards us; he has closed 
his eyes ; 

" But he shall laugh, and we will play with 
him." So saying. 

Some held his hand, and some his feet, and 
pulled him, but Lingo moved not his eyes; 

He did not speak or laugh with them. 

Then Lingo said to them, " Hear, O sisters- 
You have held my hands, 

" And feet, and pulled them ; but remember 
you are my sisters. 

" You are my mothers ; why do you deal so 
with me ? 1 am God's servant. 

'* I don't care though my life be sacrificed, but 
I will not 

"Speak with you, nor look at you, nor laugh 
with you." So 

Said Lingo. Having heard this 

The eldest sister safd, "Hear, O sisters. Lingo 
speaks not to 

Us, looks not towards us." 

188 



it 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

They began to embrace liim. Then Lingo be- 
came angry : the anger ascended from the 
heel to ms head. 

Thence descended into his eyes and down to his 
feet. Lingo looked before him^ 

But saw nothings save a pestle for cleaning rice. 

He descended from his swing and took the 
pestle in his hand. 

And somidly flogged his sista:s-in-law. As he 
was beating them, 

The seven sisters b^an to flee before him, like 
bellowing cows. 

Thence he returned, and having come to his 
swing. 

In a swin^ he slept. Thus these seven sisters 
had received a sound beating. 

They returned to their house, and having each 
one gone to her room. 

The seven sisters slept in seven places; and 
Lingo slept in a swmg. 

Thus noontide came, and the time for the 
returning of the four brothers arrived. 

Some of them had killed an antelope, some a 
hare, some a peafowl, 

Some a quail ; some brought flowers. 

They came into their house and set their bur- 
dens down, and said, "Let us go to our 
Lingo; 

" We will give him flowers ; he may be expect- 
ing us." They entered the house. 

They came near Lingo and stood, and saw him 
sleeping. 

189 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

They said, ''There is no one here, Lingo is 
sleeping ; our 

Wives do not appear. 

" Then we will come and awake Lingo/' Thence 
they returned 

To their houses, and going to their rooms, they 
began to 

Look. 

Th^, the women, were feigning sleep, and 
panting as if 

Fear had come upon them. Then the husbands 
asked them, 

" Why are you sleeping ? and why don't you 
swing Lingo ? " Thqr replied, 

'' Hear our words 

*' How Lingo, your brother, dealt with us. How 
long shall 

We hide this disgrace ? 

He allows you to go to the jungle, and behind 
your back 

" He shamefully maltreats us. 

''Such is the conduct of this Lingo. We have 
kept quiet till to-day ; 

"Now we will not stop quiet. We will go 
back to our father's 

" Place. 

" We will not stay here. Can one woman have 
two husbands ? " 

The brethren said, " We told Lingo at the first 

"That there were seven sisters, and that he 
might choose one from amongst them, 

190 






THE STORY OF LINGO 



it 



If 
it 



And that we would marry the rest. But he 
said^ 

*' *They are my sisters, they are my mothers/ 

'' Thus said that simier, wicked and ill*conducted, 
that Lingo. 

'* While we were hunting, he deceived us. We 
will take 

'' Him to the jungle, and, having killed him, we 
will pull out 

His eyes. 

Up to this day we have killed antelope and 
hares; 

''But to-day we go to hunt Lingo, and after 
killing him we wiH take out his eyes. 

'' And we will play with them as with marbles ; 
and then we will eat food and drink water.'' 

Then they came to Lingo, and stood before him 
and said, 

'' Rise, O Lingo, our youngest brother I '' 

Lingo said, " Why brethren— why have you not 
brought the game and the flowers to me? 
and why have you come so soon ? " 

They said, ** There is a large animal, we hunted 
it hard, but it did not fall : 

''It does not flee, it stands still only; we are 
tired of discharging our arrows at it.'' 

Lingo arose from the svdng and sat, and looked 
towards his brothers. 

" r will kill that animal." So said Lingo. 

Lingo thence arose and came out of the house, 
and said, 

" Come, O brothers. Where is the animal ? " 

191 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

In front, Lingo^ and in rear the four brothers 
walked towards the jungle. 

'' It is a very large animal/' said they ; and 
saying thus, th^ searched for it among trees 
and grass. 

Lingo went under a Char tree and sat. Then 
they said 

" O brother I 

"Sit here, and we will bring water." So 
sajdng, yonder they went. 

Being amongst the trees they said among them- 
selves, "Good Lingo is seated in the shade, 

"This is the right time to effect our desire." 
The four took four arrows and shot : 

One arrow hit the head, and the head split open ; 

One hit the neck, and it bowed down ; one 
hit the liver, and it was deft. 

Thus Lingo breathed his last ! 

The four brothers came up to Lingo and stood, 

And said, " Draw a knife, and we will take out 
his eyes.'^ 

They drew out a knife and 

Took out his eyes, and said, "Cover him." 

So they took some twigs and covered Lingo. 

Then they said, "We have killed Lingo, who 
was wicked." 

They plucked some green leaves of the tree 
and made a cup of them. 

And placed in it the two eyes of Lingo, and one 
tied it to his waistband. 

They walked towards their house, and at evening 
time they arrived home. 

192 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

One said, ** Hear, O wives 1 Kindle fire quickly 
''And light a lamp." They drew the stalks of 

flax from the eaves of the house roof, and 

enkindled fire. 

One said, *' It is a fine light, let us play at 
marbles." 

They took out both the eyes, and said, ''O 
seven sisters I 

You also join in play." 

Th^ brought the eyes, and placed one on the 
east side and the other on the west ; 

And the brethren, sitting close, held the marbles 
between the joints of their fingers, 

Then began to play at marbles with the two 
eyes; and theu: game lasted an hour. 



163 

«f-CSS5«) 



Part III 

THE RESTORATION TO LIFE OF LINGO. AFTER HIS 
REVIVAL HE DELIVERS THE GOND RACE FROM 

THEIR IMPRISONMENT 

Ye who love the haunts of Nature 
Love the sunshine of the meadow. 
Love the shadow of the forest. 
Love the wind among the branches. 
And the rain-shower and the snow-stonn. 
And the rushing of great rivers. 
Listen to these wild traditions. 

— ^LONQFCLLOW. 

The third scene of the drama opens in the Upper 
World. Bhagawan^ the great god, who represents 
Bura Deo, the chief god of the Gond Pantheon, 
sits in his court and all the minor gods, including 
two of the Gond gods, Pharsa Pen, and Rayetal 
his wife, sit near him. They are in a state of 
consternation. Lingo, beloved of the gods, is 
dead, and they know not where his body is. The 
saints, or Rishis, will not, or cannot, assist them 
to find it. At length Bhagawan, in rage, rouses 
himself, and having made unpleasant remarks 
about everyone, performs certain ablutions ; after 
which he created a wonderful bird, and named it 
Kagesur, a word apparently of Hindu wigin. 
This bird is sent forth to search everywhere for 
Lingo. At length he discovers Lingo's body in 
the neighbourhood of Kachikopa Lahugad. lliere 

194 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

it lies, smashed by the cruel Gonds, and without 
eyes. Bhagawan takes nectar, and gives it to 
the superhmnan Gond ancestor Kiu-tao Sabal,^ 
and bids him sprinkle it on the liver, belly, and 
head of his body. He does so and Lingo revives. 

What did god (Bhagawan) do now ? 

Rayetal, Pharsa Pen, what did they in the 
upper world ? 

In the courts of the god all the minor divinities 
sat. 

God spake to them — "Hear, O friends. Can 
you tell in what world the body of Lingo is 
fallen ? 

" Will any of you trace it and go on this errand ? ** 

Thiey made the preparation of betel-nut, and 
threw it before the saints. 

God said, " Take this up, and come and tell me.'' 

But none of the saints to<^ it up. 

Then God became angry, and began to reproach 
them. 

God arose, and with a potful of water washed 
his hands and feet. 

After washing, he, from the substance of his 
body created a crow, and sprinkled water of 
ambrosia on it. 

And thus made it alive, and named it Kagesur ; 
and held it in his hand. 

And said, " Go to the jungle and make a search 
between hills, glen, lanes; amongst trees^ in 
rivers and water." 

* Another name apparently ior Kalia Adao. See page 154. 

185 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Thence the crow departed^ and roamed over the 
upper world. 

But did not find the body of Lingo anywhere ; 
thence he came to the lower world and bc^an 
his search. 

When it came to the Jungle of Kachikopa 
Lahugad, it seardied in the valleys there. 

Its sight fell on the twigs^ it came to them and 
sat^ and searched the twigs. 

It saw Lingo lying there looking as if smashed^ 
and without eyes. 

This the crow observed^ and flew away and 
came to the Upper World. 

Perching on God's hand, it sat. God asked it, 
" Where have you seen him ? '* 

It said, '' I came to the jungle of Kachikopa 
Lahugad, I saw a man there m a cave.'' 

When God heard this he became silent, and 
understood the truth of it ; 

An4 then said, '' It was in that very jungle 
that Lingo was bom from a flower of me 
tree. 

And has never been there since." He took 
nectar 

From but of his fingers, and called Kurtao 
Sabal, and said to him. 

'' Take tfiiis and sprinkle op the liver, belly, and 
head of the body." 

Thus, the crow in front, and Kurtao Sabal 
behind, went to Kachikopa Lahugad. 

Kurtao Sabal said, *'Hear, O crow. Here is 
my Lingo." 

196 



KAGESAR SPRINKLES THE BODY OF LINGO 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

Ambrosia was brought, and dropped into his 
mouth, and sprinkled over his head and 
body : then Lingo's head began to unite. 

And his flesh became warm. 
Lingo rose. 

• 
Lingo seems either to have been ignorant as to 
. the cause of his death, or to have been full of the 
spirit . of forgiveness. He asks for his four 
brothers and learns of their fiendish wickedness. 
Nothing deterred . by^ this he announces his 
intention of now going to the rescue of the 
Gond race, who are imprisoned in Dhawalgiri by 
Bhagawan. 

Lingo sat up. Looking towards the crow, he 
said, '' I was fast asleep. 

" Where are my brothers ? 

'* I see only a man and a crow, and I don't see 
my brothers." 

After this 

Kurtao Sabal replied, " Where are your 
brothers ? 

"You were dead, yoiu- body was l3ang here; 
we came and restored you to Ufe ; 

"The brothers you enquire about have killed 
you, and gone away." 

Then said Kurtao Sabal, " What do you say 
to going ? " Lingo addressing the crow, 
said — 

" I will go to my sixteen scores of Gonds. 

" I win go and see them, and speak to them." 

197 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

He starts on his joumeyr. Night overtakes 
him and he ascends a tree where he remains till 
daybreak. 

The crow and Kurtad Sabal started in one 
direction. 

And Lingo took another road. 

Lingo^ while crossing the mountains and jungle, 
was benighted. 

Then Lingo said, "I will stay here alone; 

" Tigers and bears may devour me.'* 

He went to a large Niroor tree. 

When he climbed to the top, the night came on : 

Wild cocks crowed, peacocks cried, antelopes 
were afraid. 

And bears wagged their heads, jackals yelled, 
and the jungle resounded. 



At midnight Lingo saw the Moon, and said to 
himself: 

''The day is approaching, and while the Stars 
are stiU visible, I will ask them about my 
Gonds.'* 

At the third watch of the night, the cock 
crowed : 

The morning star appeared, the sky became red. 



Lingo descends from his tree at daybreak and 
asks the Sun where his Gonds are. The Sun 
cannot tell. He asks the Moon. She, too, is 
ignorant. 

198 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

Lingo^ descending from the tree^ ran towards 
the Siin and saluted him; 

And said^ ''I want to know where my sixteen 
scores of Gonds are ? '* 

The Sun said, " I am engaged in the service of 
God during the four watcHes of the day^ 

" And have not seen your Gonds.*' 

Lingo went to the Moon^ 

Saluted, and asked her if she knew anything 

About his sixteen scores of Gonds. The Moon 
replied: 

"I travel all nighty and during the day am 
engaged in the service of God ; 

" Therefore I know not.*' 

He asks one Kumayat — apparently a Hindu 
Rishi^ who, after sp^ddng most unpleasantly 
about the Gonds, gives him the information he 
desires. 

Lingo then Went to black Kumayat, < 

Saluted him, and asked him, ** Where are my 
sixteen scores of Gonds/' 

He repUed: "Hear, Lingo: Mention about 
anyone but Gonds. 

"The Gonds are fooUsh like the ass, 

" They eat cats, mice, and bandicoots ; 

" They also eat pigs and buffaloes ; they are of 
su6h a bad caste. 

" Why do you ask me about them ? 

190 



it 
it 

it 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

"At the source of the Jumna river, on the 
Dhawalagiri mountain, 

Mahadeva has caught the Gonds, 

And has confined them in a cave, and shut its 
mouth with a stone of sixteen cubits long. 

Bhasmasur the giant has been appointed to 
guard it, and watch the place/' 

Lingo then underwent a severe penance fen- 
twelve months;^ and having acquired a large 
amount of merit, proceeds to interview Mahadeva. 
Much as he desires it, Mahadeva cannot refuse 
Lingo and at length promises to release them. 

After hearing this Lingo set out, and walked 
night and day. 

Making devotion. After twelve months had ex- 
pired, the term of his devotion was complete. 

When the golden seat of Mahadeva be^an to 
shake (from the effect of Lingo's devotion). 

Then Mahadeva said, '' What devotee has come 
to Dhawalagiri and has performed devotions 
to me, 

" Rendering me under obligation to him ? ** 

As he was wondering and searching. 

He went towards Lingo, stood at a distance, 
and recognised him. 

Lingo did not shake his head, or Uft his foot, 
or open his eyes. 

^ The Hindus believe that mortals by severe ascettdsm 
can compel the high gods to grant them their requests. 

200 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

flesh was consumed ; his bones only re- 
mained. Thus Lingo was found on the 
thorns. 

Whereupon Mahadeva said^ 

" What do you ask for ? — ^Ask what you wish, 
and it will be granted.*' 

Lingo repUed : 

'' I want nothing but my sixteen scores of 
Gonds." 

Mahadeva repUed : 

"Make no mention of Gonds; but for any 
kingdom, or for any amount of money which 
you can enjoy, 

" And remember me." Thus said Mahadeva : 
to which Lingo did not agree. 

On his again asking for the Gonds, Mahadeva 
disappeared, and consented to give them to 
him, 

Saying : " Hear, Lingo. Your Gonds are below 
the earth, take them away.'' 

Lingo rose, saluted him, and went on. After 

this, 
Narayan said : " Hear, Mahadeva : All these 

Gonds 

" Were well concealed and were forgotten ; if 
they were dead, it would be a pleasure to me. 

" If they come out alive from below the earth, 
they will act as usual : 

'* They will eat buffaloes, birds, such as pigeons, 
crows, and eagles, and vultures. 

'' They will alight here and there ; smells will 
arise, bones will be scattered, and make the 
earth look very bad. 

201 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

"The respect for mount Dhawalagiri will be 
lost/' 

Mahadeva, hearing this, replied : " Hear/ Nara- 
yan, I have pa^ed my word. 

" I have erred, but will not change my word." 

Narayan the h^h god hears of Mahadeva's 
promise and is much upset by it. He pic- 
tures the dirt and disord^ which will arise in 
Dhawalagiri once the Gonds are released. 

He will only consent to the Gond's release if 
Lingo brings him as an offering the young of the 
black-bird Bindo for an offering. This magical 
bird lived by the sea-shore. It and its mate 
Uved luxuriously on the brains of elephants, 
camels and other animals. Its deadly foe was a 
sea-serpent called Bhoumag, which had repeatedly 
rifled its nest, and destroyed seven broods of its 
young. This fable, it is believed, is of Hindu 
origin, and some think it refers to the bird Garuda 
of Hindu m3rthology, which was a remorseless 
enemy of the serpent race. 

Narayan then addressed Lingo — 

" Hear, Lingo. Bring me the young ones of the 
black -bird Bindo tor an offering ; 

" After that you may take the Gonds away." 

Lingo went and reached the sea, where there 
was nothing but water visible; 

And on the shore be saw the young ones of the 
black-bird. 

The parent bird 

292 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

Had gone to the jungle. This bird was such, 

that 
For food it killed the elephant, and ate its eyes ; 

and 
Breaking its head, brought the brains for the 

young ones to eat. 

There had been seven broods, at seven di£Eerent 
times; 

But they had been devoured by a sea-serpent, 
called the 

Bhoumag. Lingo went near. 

Lingo goes and slays the mighty snake. The 
parents return and, not knowing what Lingo has 
done, are about to kUl him, as he sleeps. The 
young birds teU them of his powers, and in 
gratitude they agree to take their young to 
Mahadeva. 

After seeing the young ones, he said to himself : 
" If I take them in the 

''Absence of their parents, I shall be called a 
thief; I will therefore 

"Take them in the presence of the parents, 
and will be true to my name.'* 

He slept near the young birds with comfort. 

A large snake, as thick as the trunk of the 
Itumna tree appeared^ 

With a hood as large as a basket for winnowing 
corn. This serpent, called the Bhournag, 
came out of the water to eat the young ones. 

The young ones were terrified on seeing the 
serpent, and began to cry. 

208 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

Lingo, taking an arrow, and fixing it in his bow. 

Shot the serpent, and then cut it into seven 
pieces, which he immediately 

Brought and laid at the head of his bed, and 
covered them up. 

Then the male and female of the black -bird 
returned from the jungle. 

They brought the carcass of some camels and 
some elephants, together with some eyes and 
Ups of elephants. 

As food for their young ones. 

But the young ones refused to eat ; 

When the female said to the male: 

" Notwithstanding my having had seven times, 

'' I am like a barren she-buffalo ; if these young 
ones are spared 

" I shall be like a mother of children*. What 
evil eye has been cast on 

" My young ones, that they do not eat ! " 

The male bird, alighting from the tree, saw a 
white object Ijring below, where was Lingo. 

He then exclaimed : '' Here is a man, and that 
is why our young ones do not eat. 

** Let us kill him and extract his brains ; 

" Our young ones will then take their food." 

Hearing this, the yoimg ones said : 

" You have brought food for us, but how shall 
we eat it ? You are our parents, 

"You leave us alone, and go away to the 
jungle; 

" Who is there to protect us ? 

a04 



THE STORY OF LINGO 



ff 
n 



The serpent came to eat us. 

This man whom you see^ has saved our lives. 

*' Give him first to eat, we will then take our 
food ; unless he eats, we will not eat/' 

After hearing what the young ones said. 

The mother flew down from the tree, and coming 
near Lingo, 

And Ufting up the cloth with which he had 
covered hiniself saw the seven pieces of the 
Bhoumag serpent. 

Seeing this she began to exclaim : 

"This is the serpent that has alwavs eaten my 
young ones, and rendered me childless I 

"Had this man not been here it would have 
devoured these also." 

Addressing Lingo, she said : " Rise, father — 
rise, brother ; who are you, and 

" Where have you come from ? You have 
saved the Uves of our young ones, and you 
have become our grand^ther. 

" Whatever you say, we will listen to it." 

He said: 

"O bird, I am a devotee, a worshipper of the 
Deity." 

"Tell us," the bird said, "what has brought 
you here." 

Lingo repUed, " I want your young ones." 

On hearing this the bird began to cry bitterly. 

And, opening her eyes, she said : 

" I would give you anything 

"Except my young ones." 

205 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 



Lingo said: 



''I will take your young ones merely to show 
them to Md^deva/' 

In reply to this, the black Bindo said : 

'' If Mahadeva wants us, I am ready to go." 

Lingo has a delightful journey on this m}rthical 
aeroplane back to Mahadeva. The female bird 
takes her young birds on one wing and Lingo on 
the other. The male bird flies above them and 
protects from the sun. 

Saying this, the female bird carried the young 
ones on one wing, 

And Lingo on the other. The male Bindo then 
said, "' Hear, me. Lingo ; 

" You wiU feel the effects of the sun, why then 
should I remain here ? " 

The female Bindo then flew towards the sea. 

The male Bindo flying over her, and using ius 
wings as a shelter for Lingo. 

It was six months' journey to the residence of 
Mahadeva; but starting in the morning 

They alighted at midday in the court-yard of 
Mahadeva. 

Narayan, seeing them from the door, went to 
Maiiadeva and said : 

' Here is Lingo and the black Bindo birds 
which he has brought.'' 

Mahadeva then released the Gonds. 

Mahadeva exclaimed : " O Narayan I 

206 



LIXGO S WOSDERFUL FLIGHT 



•• «> 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

" I foresaw this^ and you would not believe me 
when I told you 

" That Lingo would bring the bird." 

Mahadeva tiien said : " Hear^ Lingo : I give you 
back your sixteen scores of Gonds ; 

" Take them^ and go away." 

Lingo then saluted Mahadeva and went to the 
cave^ and taking the name of the great god^ 

And *that of the god Rayetal^ he made Bhas- 
masur, the giant, to walk in front of him. 

Reaching the cave, he Hfted up the stone, 
sixteen cubits long, and laid it aside. 

The Gonds coming out of the cave and seeing 
Lingo, cried, 

" We have no one but you." 

Mahadeva gave flour of wheat to some, flour of 
millet to others, 

And rice to others. 

The Gonds went to the river, and began pre- 
parii^ their food. 

Some d the Gonds said that they had been 
confined and punished severely. 

On hearing this. Lingo said : 

''You are now at the river, cook and eat, and 
then complain." 



207 



Part IV 

LINGO SUBDIVIDES THE GONDS INTO TRIBES : 
AND INSTITUTES THE WORSHIP OF THEIR GODS. 

LINGO PASSES 

Soon my task will be completed. 
Soon your footsteps I shall follow, 
To the Islands of the Blessed, 
To the Kingdom of Ponemah, 
To the Land of the Hereafter. 

—Longfellow. 

The Gonds^ after their liberation^ set out with 
Lingo from Dhawalagiri, near the source of the 
Jumna^ for Kachikopa Lahugad^ in the Satpuras. 
They came to a river whose flood was increasing 
rapidly. All save Lingo and the four Gonds got 
across safely. These were still ijax from safety 
when Dame^ the tortoise^ and Pusi the alligator^ 
invited them to sit on their backs^ and promised 
to convey them across in safety. They accq>ted 
the invitation and the four Gonds sat on the 
alligator's back, while Lingo mounted the tortoise. 
In mid-stream Pusi the alligator, treacherously 
tried to drown the four Gonds in anticipation of 
a substantial meal. They cried to Lingo, who 
went to their assistance. They were saved and, 
along with Lingo, cross the stream on the tor- 
toise's back. The tortoise, it must be noted, is 
a sacred animal or '^ totem " to the Gonds. No 

208 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

religious Gond would hunt, kill, or eat the 
tortoise. 

Lingo kneaded the flour and made it into a 
thick cake, and cooked pulse, and satisfied all 
the Gonds. 

Then clouds arose, and it began to rain. 

When the rivers flooded, and the flood began to 
roll, all the Gonds spoke : 

" O Lingo, much rain has come up and is falling." 

Then all these Gonds b^an to walk in the 
middle of the river ; 

From among all these Gonds, four persons with 
Lingo remained. 

Lingo, having seen this, began to say : '' Hear, 
O brethren ; 

'' This river is flooded, how shall we cross it ? " 

More clouds came up, and darkness fell; 

Then those four persons and Lingo began to 
speak: 

" Hear, O brethren, what shall we do, and how 
shall we go on ? The day is departing.'' 

Now Dame the Tortoise, and Pusi the Alligator, 
were playing in the water. 

They came to them out of the water, and began 
to speak ; 

"Hear, O brethren, why do you silently stand 
and cry ? " 

They said : '* Our sixteen scores of Gonds have 
all gone and we only have remained ; 

" O brethren, how shall we go ? '* They said : 

'' Sit on us, and we will take you across. 

209 

«*-<S55i) 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

'* If you keep your oath we will take you across 
the river. 

They replied : '* Hear, O sisters. You are Pusi 
the AlUgator, and you Dame the Tortoise. 

''Those four persons who are before you will 
keep their oath first of all. 

" If any beat you we will not allow it, if any 
try to catch you we will jM^event it. 

''You shall be the eldest sister of us four 
persons/* said they. 

Dame the Tortoise, and Pusi the Alligator, came 
up to them, and the four Gonds sat on the 
Alligator's back, leaving Lingo alone to sit on 
the back of the Tortoise. 

The Alligator went first, and then followed the 
Tortoise in the flood. 

The wicked Alligator, having taken them into 
the midst of the water, began to drown them. 

They began to cry. Then the Tortoise spc^: 
"Hear, O Lingo, 

" Stretch thy hand and drag them off, and make 
them sit on my back.*' 

Lingo, having stretched his hand, caught them 
and draped them away, and made them sit 
on the Tortoise's back. 

Then the Tortoise took the four men on his back 
and went across the river ; 

And they fell at its feet, and said: "Hear, O 
Tortoise, we will not become faithless to you/' 



The Gonds then began, under Lingo's instruc- 
tion, to settle down to a civilised Ufe. They built 

210 



LISGO AND THE FOUR CONDS CROSS THE RIVER 



k 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

houses, prepared fields, held bazaars, and adopted 
an agricultural life. 

Then those four went by a jungly path, and 
ascended one hill. 

And descended another. Thus they went for- 
ward. 

They began to cut trees and build houses, and 
they remained not together, but here and 
there. 

Fields and houses were formed by the Gonds, 
and their town became large. 

A bazaar (periodical market) was held in Nar 
Bhumi (the name of the town). 

Then Lingo began to say : " Hear, O brethren. 
If you will sow millet, it will spring up." 

Thus twelve months passed, and Nar Bhumi 
hegBii to appear excellent. 

Those who had no bullocks received them. 

Those who had no carts received carts : thus all 
the houses of the city became prosperous. 

Then Lingo called them together, and upbraiding 
them for their ignorance of ordinary relationships, 
divided them into families or tribes, in part 
doubtless for marriage purposes. The actual 
classification of tribes adopted by the Gonds was, 
according to Hislop, into twelve classes. The 
classification in the Epic corresponds only par- 
tially with this. To one tribe Lingo gives the 
name of Manakwaja, which means one idio 
fashions "images of gods/' To another 

211 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

he gives the name of Dahukwaja, which means 
" drum*soldiers or musicians." Other names 
which Lingo gives^ Koilabutal, Koikopal, Kolami^ 
Kotolyal, are names still given to Gond tribes, 
Koorkus and Bhils, though aborigines of Dravidian 
origin, are now considered quite distinct from 
Gonds. Koorkus, however, still live in the Sat- 
puras, and Bhils are found in the most western 
portions of the hilly country. 

All the Gonds came to Lingo, and sat close to 
each other in rows. 

While Lingo stood in the midst of them, and 
began to speak: 

" Hear, O brethren. All you Gonds understand 
nothing. 

'' You do not know whom to call brother, and 
whom father, 

*' Or other relative ; from whom to ask a 
daughter, and to whom to give your daughter ; 

'' With whom to laugh." Then those Gonds 
bqgan to say : 

''O Lingo, you possess great and good unda:- 
standing ; do as you 

"Have said with all your might, and make 
tribes of us." 

Then Lingo, out of the sixteen scores of the 
Gonds, separated four score, and told them to 
rise. 

He caught one of them by the hand, and said : 

'^ O friend, become Manakwaja." 

212 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

» 

Then that man became Manakwaja. Then he 
caught another by the hand, and said : 

'' Become, O friend, Dahukwaja " : 

And he became Dahukwaja. He then caught 

Another by the hand, and said : '' O friend, be 
Koilabutal," and he became Koilabutal. 

Then he caught another 1^ the hand, and said * 
'' You become a wild I^ikopal " ; 

And he became Koikopal. Thus the four scores 
were divided. 

Out of the remaining twelve bands, four more 
were separated. 

The first band he made to be Koorkus, and the 
others he made to be Bhils. 

The third he made to be Kolami, and the fourth 
he made to be Kotolyal. Thus eight bands 

Were divided. 

Then f oUows a rather obscure passage in idiich 
Lingo instructs the Gonds in their worship. It 
was the Hindu month of Weishak (May). A goat 
of five years old, a crowing cock, a three-year old 
calf, and a cow two years old, are brought together 
for the sacrifice. The sacrifice of the calf and cow 
are, it must be remembered, abhorrent to the 
Hindus, but were apparently conunon amongst 
the Gonds of early days. Two bards, or minstrels, 
Manozas,'' are summoned. The idol god, 
Ghahara Pen '' (or the bell god), is one of the 
Gond gods. His idol is formed by stringing 
together a set of small tinkUng bells. The 
Sacred Fan, wherewith to fan the gods, is also 

218 



it 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

brought. The n^ct idol god to be made is 
Parsapot, a name for Pharsa Pen. His image is 
made of iron — commonty found in the Satpuras. 
He is represented by a spear, and is still wot- 
shipped by Gonds. The next idol god is the 
Stick god, made of the bamboo. 

Arrived, then Lingo said : "Come, O brethren, 
we cannot see God 

" An3rwhere ; let us make a god, and we will 
worship him/* 

Then all the Gonds with one voice 

Said : " Yes, O brethren, bring a goat 

"Five years old, a crowing cock one year old, 
a three-year old calf, a cow 

" Two years old ; and call two of the 

" Manozas (bards).'* Then they named one god 
Ghahara Fen (the Bell god). 

Lingo said : " Bring a chouri (fan) made from 
the tail of the wild cow." 

"Then," said Lingo, " open the shop of the iron- 
smith, and make the god Parsapot of steeL 

"Go to the jungle and cut a bamboo stick, and 
bring it." 

Lingo then bathed in a dhotee, and applied the 
sacred tika, or mark, to his forehead, both of 
which rites are clearly borrowed from Hinduism. 
Lingo then called two of the Drmnmer tribe to 
the assistance of the minstrels. A strange piece 
of ritual is enacted. The Chain god, an idol made 

214 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

of an iron chain, and worshipped by Gonds as 
Sakla Pen, is then bound to one Stick god, and 
Pharsa Pen, the Iron god, is bound to another 
Stick god. Then the Sacred Fan is waved ova: it, 
and Pharsa Pen is worshipped. Two other female 
members of the Gond Pantheon, Manko Rayetal 
and Jango Rayetal, probably wives of Pharsa 
Pen, appear. Lingo behaves like one possessed ; 
a sight commonly seen amongst Gond devotees. 

In the morning Lingo arose and went to a river, 
and bathed^ and wore a dhotee (a doth round 
the loins). 

And applied the tika (sacred mark) to his 
forehead. 

" What I *' says he. " Hearken, O brethren, to the 
Ozas (baros). 

'^ Call two Dahaking drummers " ; and they 
called them, and brought the Stick god. Then 

Lingo bound the Chain god to the stick, and 
pmced another 

Stick in the god Pharsapot ; and the Gungawan 
Chouri (the Cow-tailed fan) was waved over 
it ; and with joined hands 

They said : " Hail I Pharsa Pen.*' 

He lifted the stick, and the goddesses Manko 
Rayetal, Jango Rayetal, 

And Pharsa Pen came, and stood there; and 
Lingo was possessed of them. 

Then Lingo became a man devoted to god, and 
moved and jumped much : 

215 



THE STORY OF GONDWAN A 

Lingo was in front, and behind were goats, cocks, 
a calf. 

And all the Gonds 

Assembled in one place. 

Then leaving the village of Dhan^;acm, th^ 
went, in rude procession, into the forest with their 
gods, the sacred string of bells, the sacred spear, 
the sacred chain, the sacred f an« The Stick god 
leads the way. Then the bearers of these conse- 
crated emblems are ordered to stop. The sacrifi- 
cial ceremonies here described are still practised by 
the Gonds^ 

They came, and began to say, "This is a thick 
. jungle." 

Then the Gonds called on the gods to stand 
still. 

They fell at the feet of the gods, and asked 
where they 

Should make seats for the gods of each band. 

Then all the Gonds came in front and, with 
joined hands. 

Stood ; 

And began to ask Pharsa Pen; who replied: 

" Hear, O brethren, 

"Between twelve glens and seven dales ^ go, 
and make place for us gods." 

Then in front went the Stick god, and behind 
followed all the Gonds. 

^ The Satpuras mean seven valleys or dales. 

216 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

They arrived^ and after alighting tUey began to 
pick up grass and lift stones. 

Then said Lingo, 

'' Hear, O brethren, Do you see yonder a 

Bijesal tree ? Go and cut it and make a kettle- 
drum from its wood." They, taking an axe, 
went and cut it. 

Some held a pitcher, and brought a pitcherful of 
water; 

Some digged earth, and 

Made a platform, and placed on it the Stick 
god. Some said 

" Our drum is not ready. 

'' Bum this fire in front, and light the lamp." 

They wetted five tolas' weight of vermiUon in 
ghee, and 

Threw five tolas of ral (resin) on the fire. 

Then sat Lingo with joined hands before the 
god Ghahara, 

The Bell god. 

Ghahara Pen began to jump about, and pos- 
sessed the body of Lingo. Pharsa Pen began 
to play also. 

Then they took a pitcherful of dam (liquor). 

And sprinkled it on the stick, and said : *' Hail 
to you, Pharsa Pen I " 

And, with joined hands, they fell at his feet. 
While they 

Were falling at his feet. 

The goddess Rayetal possessed the body of 
Lingo, who moved 

217 



THE STORY OP GONDWANA 

And danced much. 

Then he b^an to speak thus: ''Bring to me 
victims — 



"Goats of five years old." After bringing the 
goat they 

Fell at his feet. 

And washed its head, and applied vermilion, 
and poured 

Daru (liquor), into its ears. 

Then after catching the goat l^ the feet, they 
threw it . 

Before the god. 

And the goddess Rayetal possessed the body of 
the goat. 

Which began to shake its head, ears, and whole 
frame very much. 

Then two or four persons ran and caught it, and 
threw it 

Down, 

Before the goddess, and killed it. Then blood 
was sprinkled 

■ 

Around. 

And tbey placed the head before the goddess, 
and took the 

Body. 

Then a white cock, a year old, was brought, and 
they killed 

It. 

And began to play a good tune on the Kingree 
(a one-stringed guitar), and the drum. 

The goddess derived pleasure therefrom. Then 
two feet of 

218 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

A calf were washed^ and so was its mouth; 
vermilion was 

Applied to its forehead. 

Then they threw the other animal down, and 
killed them too. 

The head of the calf was placed before the 
goddess. Then 

Said Lingo : '' Hear, O brethren ; 

Remove quickly the skin of the calf, and roast 
its liver.** 

They brought stones and made an oven, and 
placed a pitcher 

On it- 

The pitcher was filled with water, and flesh was 
put in it. 

Tte leaves of a tree were cut and brought, and 
made into plates. 

And in a brass-plate they placed cooked rice, 
liver, flesh, 

And they lighted four lamps, and took and placed 

them 
Before the gods. 

Some made an offering of silver up to the knee 
pieces as 

A present to the god. 

Thus a heap of silver up to the knee of a man 
was 

Gathered before the god. 

Then follows a passage in glorification of the 
Pardhans, or priest caste, introduced by the 

219 



it 

I 



THE STORY OF GONI>WANA 

Pardhan reciter of the song. The present of a 
horse is a mark of high honour. The Horse god, 
Kodan Pen, is sometimes worshipped 1>y the 
Gonds, and sacred images of the animal are to 
be seen in the Chanda district. The Pardhans are 
notorious for their averseness to any kind of 
labour. 

Then Lingo ^poke : " Hear, O brethren : The 
offerings are 

Good in the courts of the god. 

'' There is no one to receive these offerings. 

" Hear, O brethren: From the midst of all 
these Gonds some 

"One should become a Pardhan. 

" And we will give this offering to him." 

Then Lingo looked well among the company and 
saw an old. 

Hoary-haired man, first of all ; 

And having looked on him, held his hand and 
said : 

'' Become a Pardhan, and we wiU give you much 
wealth and 

" Clothes ; 

'* We will give you a horse, and whatever you 
ask us we wiU 

•' Not refuse.*' 

'* WeU, brother," said the old man, '* I am fit 
for nothing 

*' But to sit and eat." 

220 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

All saluted him; and some gave clothes, some 
gave silver pieces. 

Some gave him a pipe. 

Lingo then divided the Gond tribes into families 
of seven, six, five, and four. This division, which 
at first sight seems obscure, refers to the groups or 
families among the Gonds, which consist of people 
who worship seven gods, six gods, five gods, or 
four gods. These sects, or septs, influence their 
marriage arrangements, as a seven-god worshipper 
cannot marry one of the class of seven*god 
worshippers^ but must select a partner from one 
of the other classes. 

As they were rising Lingo said : " Hear, O 
brethren and friends.'* 

Then said they, " What shall we do, O brethren ? '* 
He rose and made 

Seven persons out of them to stand aside, and 
said to them : 

*' You become a family of seven." 

He then made six persons to stand aside. 

And said, ''You become a family of six/' He 
took five more aside. 

And made them to stand, and breaking surface 
of the earth, a family of five were formed. 

To the remaining four he said : '^ Be divided 
into families of four and five." 

Then Lingo, having accomplished his task^ and 
having solemnly bade the Gonds to keep faith 

221 



THE STORY OF GONDWANA 

with their " totem " the tortoise, departed to the 
gods. 

It is to be feared that Lingo's last admonition 
about the treatment of the tortoise has been 
forgotten, for many Gonds in the present day 
show no respect for the tortoise, eating it as 
readily as they do other animals. 

After saying this, he reminded them to keep 
their promise with the Tortoise. 

Then they all made salutation. Lingo said : 

" O brethren, look yonder towards the gods.'* 

All persons looked behind, but Lingo vanished 
and went to the gods. 

While they were looking behind, they said 

" Where is our Lingo gone ? " 



There is much to charm one in this old-world 
story. Its sympathy with the jungle, its appre- 
ciation of the beauty of nature, and the quiet 
humour of those who take part in its little dramas, 
all serve to make it peculiarly attractive. Those 
who know the Gonck, and, indeed, most Indian 
aborigines, well know their child-like sense of 
humour, and love of a joke, and how in this respect 
th^ differ from the sadder, if wiser, Hindus. 

There is a deeper side also to the story of Lingo, 
which no one interested in '^ things of the soul " 
can fail to appreciate. The story invites the 
Gonds to think that they owed their simple 
civihsation to a being of a higher order than 

222 



THE STORY OF LINGO 

themselves. Archbishop Whately was wont to say 
that, without some kind of revelation, the savage 
could not have risen from his low condition. The 
story, too, claims for the "emancipator" a 
wonderfully noble character. " Lingo was a per- 
fect man, water may be stained, but no stain had 
Lingo." His rejection of temptation — ^in this 
respect the story is strangely like that of the 
patriarch Joseph, — his freedom from malice and 
guile, his readiness to forgive his murderers, to 
forget their ingratitude and injiuies, and to com- 
plete his mission of the rescue of the Gond race, 
remind one strangely of Him who came not to be 
ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His 
Life a ransom for many. 

Whether the story came from the soul of some 
forgotten bard, a soul naturally Christian ; whether 
it contains within it faint echoes of Christian 
teaching, which had crept into India by un- 
suspected ways in days gone by, we cannot say. 
All that we need say is that the story is but one 
of many proofe that even amongst earth's simplest 
children noble and true and inspired ideas have 
some recognition, and that, when the time comes 
for the fuller enlightenment of such simple people, 
the Christian teacher will have a soil not wholly 
barren and unprepared on which to build his lofty 
spiritual and ethical teaching. 



223 




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INDEX 



Abors, 123 

Abu-1-Fazl, 2. 67 

Achaleahwar, 62 

Addiscombe, 89 

" Adultery Courts," 95 

Ahmed Shah, 52 

Ain-i-Akbari, 67 

Akbar, 2, 25, 44 

Akbar Shah, 75 

All Saints' Cathedral, Nagpur, 1 10 

Alligator, Pusi. 208. 209 

Amarkantak, 5, 16 

Amir Khan, 98 

Appa Sahib, 82, 85 

Argaon, 80 

Arjun, 32 

Aryans, 7, 8, 42 

Asai Khan, 2, 21 

Asansol, 114 

Asirgarh, 2, 49 

Assaye, 80 

Aurangzeb, 44, 45, 73 

Babaji, 67 
Bahmani, 73 

Baka Bai Bhonsla, 86, 103 
Bakt Buland, 44, 46. 52, 74 
Ballal Singh. 54-^ 
Ballarshah, 60-2, 1 17 
Bardsley, Miss J., 146 
Bastar, 123. 126-7 

, Rajah ol, 123, 128 

Benares, 50, 56 

Betol, 48 

Bhadra, 53 

Bhadravati, 53 

Bhagawan, 155, 159, 162, 194, 195 

Bhairava, 18 

Bhairon, 124 

Bhan, 161 

Bhandara, 117 

Bhasmasur, 155, 158 

Bhera Pen, 122 

Bhils. 6 

Bhinla, 34 



Bhun Ballal Singh, 54 

Bhoi Baba, 144 

Bhonsla, 75, 103 

Bhonmag, 202-3 

Bhuma, 65 

BigBania, 80 

Bindo. 202, 206 

Birkhila, 123 

Bir Narayan, 19,. 20. 23 

Bir Shah, 68, 69 

Bir Singh Deo, 26 

Bishop Cotton, 1 10 

Bishop) Cotton School, 110 

Brahuis, 6 

Bodley, Mr. G. F.. 110 

Buddhism, 54 

Burham Shah, 74 

Bundelas, 28 

" Bundela Rising." 101 

Bundelkhand, 9, 105 

* 

Canaresb, 6 
Camatic. 72 

Carruthers. Rev. G. T., 147 
Cavendish, Hon. R, 86 
Chabutra, 22 

" Chamber of Horrors," 123 
Champion, Rev. £., 143 
Chand Sultan, 46, 74 
Chanda, 9, 52. 63, 64, 147 
Chandar Shah, 25 
Chauragarh, 3, 10, 18, 23 
Chandela, 18 
Chandrapur, 63 
Charles, Mr. A.. 146 
Chaukigarh, 20 
Chauth, 76 

Chhattisgarh State Railway, 1 14 
Chhindwara. 41 
Chiefs College, 109 
Chikalda, 4, 80 
Chiriadongree, 144 
Chitor, 20 

Church of Scotland, Episcopal, 
147 



225 



15 — (355«) 



INDEX 



Church of Scotland, United Free, 

137 
Colebrooke, Mr., 79 
Colvin. Sir Auckland, 90 
Craddock, Sir R., 107, 115 
CuUen, Rev. Dr., Ill 

Dahukwaja, 212, 213 

Dalapati, 32 

Dalpat Shah, 18. 19 

Damoh, 40 

Dantesvari, 127 

Dantewara, 123 

" Darshaa," 5 

Dasehra. 127, 128 

Dati, 154 

Dawson, Rev. A., 143 

Deccan, 6, 45, 52, 53. 73 

Delhi, 24, 25, 44, 58, 73, 105 

Deogarh, 16, 41-3, 45, 47, 48. 52, 53 

Deor, 75 

Dhawalgiri, 158 

" Dhaya," 166 

Dinkah Singh, 55 

Domiciled Community, 1 10 

Draved, 72 

Dravidians, 6, 72 

Duff, Grant, 84 

Durand, Sir Mortimer, 90 

Durgavati, 18-21, 23. 24, 69 

Durgpal, 68 

East India Company. 88 

Edwaides, Sir Herbert, 90 

Ellichpur, 51, 52 

Elliot, Sir Charles. 138 

Ellis, Mr., 101 

Elphinstone, Mr. Mountstuart, 81 

Erskine, Colonel, 104 

Failbus, Rev., 144 
Feroz Shah, 51 
Fitzgerald, Capt., 83 
Forsyth, Capt., 1, 111, 152 
" Fort Erskine." 104 
Ftere, Sir Bartle, 90 
Fryer, Rev. J., 130, 134 

Ganbsa, 31 
Ganga Sagar, 28 
GaoU. 42 

Garbe, Professor, 93 
Garha, 11, 14 



Garha-Mandla, 15 

Garuda, 202 

Gatzky, Karl, 142 

Gaur, 6 

Gawalgarh, 4, 80 

Ghahara Pen, 213 

Ghansor, 42 

Glasfurd, Col., 128 

Godaveri, 15, 76 

Condi, 144 

Goreh, Rev. Nehemiah, 147 

Gossner, Pastor, 142 

Grant, Sir Charles, 93 

Gunergarh, 20 

Hai-Haiya Bansi, 8 

HaUeybury College, 89 

Hanuman, 16 

Hart, 32 

Havelock, 90 

Hemachalas, 33 

Hensley, Canon E. A., 146 

Hinghan River, 21 

Hiraman, 69 

Hirde Shah, 27-29 

Hir Shah, 64 

Hir Singh, 55 

Hislop, Rev. Stephen, 121, 137, 

142. 151 
Hislop CoUege, 137 
Hiuen Tsang, 54 
HoU. 96 
Hoahang, 52 
Human Sacrifices, 123 

Indra, 32 

" Iron VaUey," 163 

Jacob, Rev. Israel, 148 
Jadurai, 15-17, 30-1 
Jagadalpur, 127 
Jagannath, 32 
Jait>pal, 50 
Janoji, 77 
Jarba, 56-^7 
Jatba, 42-4 
Jaya Govinda, 30, 38 
]enkina. Major. 105 
[enkins. Sir Richard, 81-2 
Jhuihar Singh, 26-7 
Jubbulpore, 13, 18. 138. 140 



226 



INDEX 



Kachikopa Lahugad, 159, 186, 

194, 196 
Kacesur, 194-5 
Kafadmri. 14-15 
KaU. 124. 127 
Kalia Adao, 154-5 
Kamadhenu, 33 
Kanhan. 41, 46 
Karanjia, 140-1 
Kam Shah, 66 
Katanka, 2^ 
Khandkia Ballal Shah, 60 
Kherla, 10. 11,49,53 
Khnrai, 39 
Koikopal, 212-3 
KoUabntal, 212-3 
Koitor, 6 
Kola, 6 
Kol BhU, 54 
Kolami, 212-3 
Kosala, 54 
Knahna, 30^1 
Kumbhis, 76 
Kmnayat, 199 
Kurkus, 6 
Kurtao Sabal, 195, 197 

" Land of Surpriaes," 53 

Lawrence, Henry, 90 

Lawrence, John, 90, 149 

Laxman. 16 

Lingan {or Mount Lingana), 154 

Lingas, 66 

Lingo, 151-223 

Loesch, Rev. A., 142 

Lokba, 65 

Hadan Mahal, 14, 31 
Madan Singh, Rajah, 14, 31 
Madhnkarasahi, 34 
Madhukar Shah, 25, 31, 34 
BAahadeo Range, 4 

, Cave of, 5 

Mahadeva, lSi4-6, 161 
MahaKaU,68 
Maharasthra, 72 
Mahoba, Rajah of, 19 
BCaikal Range, 4 
Bialcolm. 123 
Malwa, 9. 51 
Manas, 54 
Idanakwaja, 205 



Mandhata. 5, 123 

Biandla, 15 

Biandu, 20 

Manikgarh, 54 

BCanikpnr, 2, 9 

Manozas, 213 

Marble Rocks, 14 

Mayo, Earl of, 112 

McKenzie, Rev. J. R., 148 

McLeod, Sir Donald, 139-143, 146 

Mimansa, 38 

Mishmis, 120 

Mohan Singh, 57 

Molony, Bishop Herbert, 142, 145 

Mongols, 6 

Montgomery, Sir R., 90 

Morris College, 116 

Mrigavati, 98 

Mudhoji Patel. 75 

" Mnkti," 5 

Mnkund Raj, 50 

Moiadwit, 38 

Nagdbo, 15 
Nagvansi, 54 

Nagpur, 5, 41, 110, 115-9 
Nagpur Exhibitions, 107 
Narayan, 157, 201 
Narayan Rao, 98 
Narhar Shah, 39 
Narind Shah, 45 
Narsingh, 31 
Narsingh Rai, 50 
Nerbudda, 5, 16 
Kigan Bakt, 45 
Nilkanth Shah, 70 
Nilkant Shastri, 147 

Onkar, 123 

Orchha, 26 

Ontram, Sir James, 90 

Pachmarhi, 5, 111 

Padishah, 59 

Padmani, 20 

Panchgaon, 77 

Panipat, 74 

Panna, 2 

" Pardhan," 151 

Parlor, 161 

Parker, Bishop H. P., 145 

Parsoji. 75, 81 

Partha, 33 



227 



INDEX 



Parvati, 155. 161 
Peshwa (Maratha), 99 
Pharsa Pen. 129. 180 
Philip, Rev. J. D.. 148 
PUba. 147 
Pindaris. 96 
Pola (Festival), 96 
Pirem Narayan. 27, 31 
Premanarayana, 35 
Premasahi, 35 
Price. Rev. E. D.. 146 
Piithwi Raj, 30 
Purandara. 32 
Pnrsia, 96 
Pnruhuta. 33 

Raghuji Bhonsla, 74 
Raghuji II, 78 
Raghnji III, 86 
Railway. B.N.R., 114 
Railway, G.I.P., 112 
Raisin. 2 
Raj-Gond, 121 
Rajnandgaon. 114 
Rakta Danti. 127 
Rama. 16 

Ramayana, Epic of. 7 
Ramchandra, 30. 31 
Ramnagar. 16. 28. 30 
Ram Shah. 70 
Ram Singh. 55 
Ramtek. 5 
Rani Tal, 22 
Ransur. 42 
Ratana VaU. 17 
Ratanpur. 2 
Rayetal. 180 
Rebsch. Rev. J. W., 143 
Rikad Gawadi, 174 
Rishis. 8 

Rialey, Sir H.. 6, 72 
Roberts, Lord, 90 
Rose. Sir Hugh, 105 
Rudra, 32 
Rupmati. 20 

Sabaji, 77 

Sacrifice, Human, 123 

" Sadhus," 7 

Sangram Shah. 17. 18. 31 

Sangramasahi. 32 

Satakratus. 37 

" Sati." 91 



Satporas, 3 
Satputras. 4 

"Saugor and Nerbudda Terri- 
tories." 100 

Scandinavian Church of Sweden 

138 
Schleisner. Julius. 142 
Sdndhia. 80 

Scott. Col. Hopetoun. 82 
Scythians. 6 

Scytho-Dravidians. 72 
Shah. 59 

Shanmukha. 29 

Sher Shah, 59 

Sher Shah Ballal Shah, 59 

Singh, 59 

Singoigarh, 20, 21 

Sirajee, 73, 74 

Sirpur, 54 

Sita. 16. 19 

Sitabaldi. 46. 82 

Slecman. General Sir W.. 24. 99 

Smara. 35 

Smith. Major Lude, 131 

Smith. Mr. Mosley, 143 

Sone River. 4 

Sten Konow, Professor, 116 

Stephen, Fitzjames. 90 

Stuart. Bishop E. C. 143 

Sukulpura, 146 

" Sunobut." 82 

Surbhi Pathak. 16 

Surja Ballal Singh. 56, 58 



Tamil. 6 

Tapti. 4. 48 

Tarani. 38 

Taru, 55 

Tarvels. 55 

Telegu. 6 

Telingana. 72 

Telinkheri. 82 

Temple. Sir Ridiard. 9. 106-111. 

151 
Tewar, 8, 14 
Thugs. 99 
" Tirth Sthan." 5 
Tortoise. Dame. 208 
" Totem " Worship, 131 
Transmigration. 133 
Tripuri. 8. 14 
Trivikrama. 31 



228 



INDEX 



Vakataka, 53 
Vasadeva, 32 
Vindhyaa, 3. 4 
Viranarayana, 33 
ViahnQ, 32 

Waghoba, 131 
Wainganga, 5> 41 
Watragarh, 54 
Wakelmg. Rev. J. L.. 146 



Wall Shah» 74 
Wellington. Duke ot 80 
Whately, Archbishop, 223 
Williamson, Rev. H. D., 144 
Wood, Rev. Canon A., 122, 129, 

133, 147 
Wynne, Blr. T., 114 



Yadavaraya, 30, 31 



THE END 



i 'r i m t t d by Sir l 



PUmm & Sons, LM., Bmk, Bn^m^u 
(35SI)